Today is Saint David’s Day, the patron saint of Wales who died on 1st March 589 AD. As a technology business based in Wales it was really important for us to add Welsh as the 10th foreign language edition of our suite of flexible online HR solutions. We work with firms around the world, including lots of Welsh businesses that want to use our software in their native language. Welsh is one of the oldest languages in Europe and it is having a revival right now. The Welsh Government has set two ambitious targets by 2050 - to reach a million Welsh speakers and double the percentage of the population who use Welsh daily[i]. If this is achieved, more employees in Wales will be speaking Welsh and to support this we are offering our software in Welsh as a language option. To celebrate St David’s Day here are some interesting facts about the Welsh language:
- It’s one of the oldest languages in Europe and evolved from Brythonic, the main language spoken in Wales, England and Southern Scotland when the Romans invaded in 43AD[ii].
- Welsh began to emerge as a distinctive language sometime between 400 and 700 AD– and early Welsh poetry survives from this period[iii].
- The Welsh alphabet has two more vowels than English – ‘y’ and ‘w’, plus the double-letter digraphs count as one because they make one sound – ‘ch’, ‘dd’, ‘ll’, ‘th’, ‘ff’ and ‘rh’[iv]
- The letters K, Q, V, X and Z are not included in the Welsh alphabet, but are sometimes found in borrowed words[v]
- The 58-letter name of a Welsh village on Anglesey is famous as the longest place name in Europe – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch[vi].
- Whilst this village name is 58 letters, it is only 50 letters in Welsh as the‘ll’ ‘ng’and ‘ch’ are treated as single letters.
- Welsh is spoken in Patagonia in South America where there are bilingual primary schools. This was because a small group of Welsh people established a colony there over 150 years ago to help preserve the Welsh language and culture[vii].
- Visitors to Patagonia can experience a traditional Welsh tea in the village of Gaiman in Patagonia which has the highest concentration of Welsh speakers in the region[viii].