Understanding Welsh, A 4,000-Year-Old Language

Many visitors to Wales have come across phrases such as helo which means hello, bore da meaning good morning, prynhawn da meaning good afternoon, diolch meaning thank you and croeso i Gymru which means welcome to Wales.

It is such a beautiful language which was almost wiped out. A language so multifarious and so beautiful is what Welsh is. It has taken a 4,000-year journey from Brythonic and Indo-European origins to what it is now.

Wales pioneered the drafting and confirming of laws in the Welsh language, and it goes back to the time when the people of Wales referred to it as Cymry. There are a lot of stories about the people and civilisation of that period detailed in the National Library of Wales.

Things took a turn when the Normans invaded Wales bringing with them the French language to the lands. Soon followed the British who were English speakers which became a preferred language when they settled in Wales. There was confusion all-round when it came to communication. This prompted Henry VIII to command that English was going to be the official language to be used in all quarters, which included all law offices, schools, and churches.

It all went downhill when there was a surge in modernisation in the late 19th century. Egged on by both the World Wars and the rise of the Industrial Revolution, Welsh was slowly dying a sad death.

When the government authorities realised that if nothing changed, they would lose a big chunk of their heritage from the death of the Welsh language, they took drastic measures to make a huge turnaround.

Welsh got reinstated back in the school curriculum, and it became a standard language heard on the radio and television stations. There was an upsurge of newspapers written in Welsh. Even the road signs in Wales got written in Welsh with English translations.

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