Wednesday, 9 April 2008

English Out?

Over at Connexions there is a post about some graffiti in Welsh and a discussion of what it might or might not mean and the old thought about people in Wales starting to speak in Welsh as soon as someone English comes along (how do they know who is English?).
I want to put another side to this thinking and share my experience of some wonderful Welsh people.
For a number of years now I have been involved with a beach mission in Borth during the summer months and about three years ago the Catholic church where we used to have our indoor events closed quite suddenly. This presented us with a problem until a friend put us in touch with the folk at the Welsh Chapel (Gerlan) who we approached about using their premises. They were happy for us to do this and we moved the indoor events there and decided that on the Sunday we would attend worship at the chapel - remember it is a 'Welsh' chapel. When we walked in (8 of us) there was what may have been called a sharp intake of breath as they realised that here were 8 English visitors. There was a hurried conversation between a gentleman who we later found was the pastor and two ladies (the organist and one of the elders) followed by a hurried change of numbers on the hymn board. The service commenced with the pastor welcoming people in English and then in Welsh and the whole service continued in a bilingual way including the sermon. The changes to the hymn board were to bring in two hymns in English while the remainder were in Welsh and the last hymn was 'What a friend we have in Jesus' which was sung both in English and Welsh.
Our experience was and is very positive as we have returned there three years running and on each occasion they have changed the service to accommodate the English.

2 comments:

Richard Hall said...

That's exactly my experience too. As I said in my post, I think the notion that the Welsh don't welcome the English is more or less a myth.

Methodist Preacher said...

What I think many of us fail to realise is that the early church - the one described in the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles - was essentially multilingual. Once we grasp that we understand much of what Paul meant when he urged for example, women to keep quiet in church.

Men would have to learn all local languages. Women who stayed at home would only have to know their "mother tongue". The early church was a turbulent hubbub of interpretation with the multilingual husband trying to explain.

Sometimes it was better that the husband explained later not to cause too much disturbance.

One day someone will write a thesis along these lines and get to be call the "Rev Dr" for stating the blindingly obvious!