A Social History of the Welsh Language

The second major research project of the Centre, the Social History of the Welsh Language from the first Act of Union in 1536 to the present, was completed in 2001.

Its aim was to explain how and why Welsh was replaced to a considerable degree in the modern period by the English language. Close attention was paid to the status and role of Welsh in relation to English, and the research focused in particular on the size and distribution of the population and attitudes towards the Welsh language in the home and workplace, in the fields of education and law, in the activities of the press and in religious, cultural, administrative and political circles.

 

Researcher at work 

The research fellows, assisted by demographers, anthropologists, geographers, historians and linguists from within the constituent institutions of the University of Wales and elsewhere, discovered a wealth of hitherto unused sources which provided new insights into the development of the Welsh language in its social context. The research was supervised by the former Director, Professor Geraint H. Jenkins, and by an Advisory Panel which contained leading scholars in the field.

The project attracted considerable international interest and the eleven published volumes have been a major contribution to the social history of the language.

A report entitled The Effects of Tourism on the Welsh Language in North-West Wales , compiled by some of the Project’s staff members, reveals that there is a close connection between tourism, in-migration and language decline. (See also the associated article.)