Although the majority of people living in Wales can speak English, the Welsh language continues to thrive. Half a million people in Wales can speak Welsh, that’s around 19% of the population.
It’s called Cymraeg, and is a language with entirely regular and phonetic spelling. Our place names may look complicated but once you know the rules, you can learn to read and pronounce Welsh fairly easily.
Our Celtic language is closely related to Cornish and Breton and is one of Europe’s oldest living languages; the Welsh we speak today is directly descended from the language of the Sixth Century.
Welsh is a living language, used in conversation by thousands and seen throughout Wales. Welsh Language Act 1993, Government of Wales Act 1998, and The National Assembly for Wales (Official Languages) Act 2012 provide that the Welsh and English languages should be treated equally. Public bodies are required to prepare and implement a Welsh Language Scheme.
Local councils and the Welsh Government use Welsh as an official language, issuing official literature and publicity in Welsh as well as in English. Road signs in Wales are in English and Welsh, including the Welsh versions of place names.
The Welsh people are keen to keep the language alive so Welsh is a compulsory subject for all school pupils up to the age of 16 in Wales. Welsh medium schools are also increasingly popular.
We have a Welsh language television channel, S4C, and a Welsh language radio station, BBC Radio Cymru. There is no daily newspaper in Welsh, but there is a weekly national paper as well as Welsh language magazines and regional monthly papers.