Welsh is an old language spoken by the ancient Britons (prior to the Anglo-Saxons arrival). It was brought by the Celts who arrived around the 6th century BC. The Celtic language split into two groups: Brythonic – the predecessor of Welsh, Cornish and Breton and Gaelic - spoken by the Scottish and Irish.
Welsh was the language of Wales until 1536 when Henry VIII removed the Welsh language from all public life including schools. The people had to learn and speak in English. Even with this decree, in the first part of the 19C, Welsh was still spoken by the vast majority of Wales. A few short hundred years later, less than half the people could speak Welsh, pointing to extinction in a few generations if nothing changed.
In 1942, the Welsh courts repealed Henry VIII’s law from the 1500’s and in 1993 the Welsh Language Act passed. The Act required public organizations to have dual signage of both English and Welsh. In 2011, To even further the status of Welsh, the Welsh Language Measure updated the 1993 Act to make Welsh the official language of the nation. The most recent census taken in 2021 reported 29.1% of people in Wales could speak Welsh.
Language & Heritage
People Speaking Welsh in 2011
SkateTier, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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