Aspects of Welsh English on the Example of „My Neighbours“ by Caradoc Evans

Term Paper, 2007

14 Pages, Grade: 1,7



1. Introduction

2. Welsh English – Past and Present
2.1. Short History of Welsh English
2.2. Welsh English Today

3. Caradoc Evans and His World

4. “My Neighbours – the Lingustic Analysis”

5. Conclusion

6. List of Works Cited

1. Introduction

Long before the English language became dominant on the British Isles Celtic languages were the main method of communication. But since the middle of the nineteenth century they had been losing their influence due to the rapid process of anglicisation. And soon Celtic languages could only be found in the western regions of the British Isles. The situation has not changed until now.

Among the Celtic languages Welsh is considered to be the most survived one. Welsh is also the oldest language in Britain. It roots back at least 2.500 and possibly 4.000 years. Nowadays about 21 per cent of the population in Wales speak Welsh as their mother tongue. The native speakers of Welsh can be found mostly in the northern and western regions of the country whereas southern and eastern parts are throughout English speaking communities. (“History of the Welsh Language”) English which is spoken in these areas is influenced to some degree by Welsh. And as a result English spoken in Wales can be referred to as a dialect of the standard English language.

Welsh English has its own specific features, which differentiate this variety from other dialects of English. These features can be found on all linguistic levels, on phonetical, morphological, grammatical, syntactical. Welsh English is supposed to be very peculiar pnonetically having its well-known song-form intonation. At the same time a great range of differences are to be noticed in grammar, syntax and vocabulary usage. And so the aim of this paper is to show and analyse the grammatical, syntactical and lexical aspects of Welsh English on the example of a literary work written in this variety. For this purpose the collection of short stories “My Neighbours” by Welsh novelist of the 20th century Caradoc Evans was chosen. These short stories are full of dialogues, which present the everyday spoken Welsh English. There is no clear reference to a particular region where protagonists originate from. Conversations in the text comprise language peculiarities that can be found in different parts of Wales. Apart from the linguistic analysis some information on history and the present-day status of Welsh and English in Wales is given.

Due to the fact that Caradoc Evans as a Welsh writer is mainly known in Wales, and printed sources about himself and his creative life are to be found mostly in Wales, the information about the author and his works is based to a great extend on Internet sources.

2. Welsh English – Past and Present

2.1. Short History of Welsh English

The distinctiveness of Welsh English varies greatly within Wales, being most noticeable in areas where Welsh is still strong, for instance in the north-west. There is no universally used standard variety.

Before dealing with the Welsh English in particular few words should be said about its big source, the Welsh language. Welsh as a member of the Brythonic branch of Celtic languages had been spoken in Wales until the mid of 19th century. Since 550 Welsh had been developing as a separate language and in 800 it became an official language in legal system and a language of literature. In 1284 Wales was formally annexed to England, and English Law was established, which appeared to be a starting point for political and cultural decline.(“History of the Welsh Language”) The Statute of Wales, commonly known as the Act of Union of 1535, imposed English as the official language, requiring:

“that all justices [...] shall proclaim and keep [...] all [...] courts in the English tongue; [...] all oaths shall be given [...] in the English tongue; no person or persons that use the Welsh speech or language shall have [...] any office [...] within this realm of England, Wales or other the King’s Dominion [...]unless he or she use and exercise the English speech or language (Williams, D.T. (1950). London: Modern Wales, p.38, qtd. in Thomas: 56 ).

The only area of public life where Welsh was still alive was the church. But the situation changed in 1563 when an Act of Parliament required that a copy of the English Bible and the Book of Common Prayer should be placed alongside the Welsh versions in every church, so that people might attain the knowledge of the English language. (“History of the Welsh Language”) Soon a great part of Welsh community turned to anglicisation. The gentry tended to be bilingual but peasantry still remained monolingual Welsh. (Thomas: 56) The usage of English grew more among the pre-industrial peasantry on the eastern edge of the country due to face-to-face interaction, social encounters in centres of day-to-day business.(Thomas: 57) The mid of 19th century saw even more restrictions. The year of 1867 became known as the year of Welsh Not. According to the law every child in a school who spoke Welsh had to wear a special wooden sigh on his chest showing that he or she is a Welsh. (“History of the Welsh Language”) As a result of the development of trade many English settlements were established in Wales, and English language as a language of trade and commerce became a source of economic power and social prestige. (Thomas: 55) In 1870 a new Act of Parliament Educational Act was adopted. According to this act English had to be a solitary medium of education. And at the beginning of the 20th century English entered the media and received a direct access to all the spheres of public life. (“History of Welsh Language”)

The recovery of Welsh language started after the World War Two. The need of this recovery resulted from the depopulation of rural areas, which caused weakening of the Welsh English communities. English still remained the language of commerce, law, education and government whereas Welsh only played a small role as a part of the nonconformist religion of the chapels. English had to be learned and taught of necessity and not from choice. Attitude among parents and children to English and Welsh depended on their perception of the usefulness of the two languages. (Thomas: 65) On the one hand, English offered more economic benefits and job opportunities, but on the other hand there was a need for cultural revival in the society. And so in 1962 the Welsh Language Society was formed, and later on Channel 4 Wales and Radio Cymru as well. They broadcast all programmes in Welsh. In the end of the 80s the National Curriculum for Wales was adopted, which stated that all pupils would study Welsh from the age five to sixteen.1993 was also a very notable year for Welsh. In this year the Welsh Language Act was adopted that put Welsh and English on an equal basis in public life in Wales. (“History of Welsh English”)

2.2. Welsh English Today

Nowadays Wales is a bilingual country, where 21,5% of the population speak Welsh as their native language and learn English at school. According to the Government of Wales Act (1998) Welsh is now a language of government in Wales. National Assembly of Wales treats Welsh and English equally, so far as is practicable, in conducting all its business. All subordinate legislation is bilingual. (“History of Welsh Language”) English as the first language is mostly spoken in southern and eastern areas, for example, in the southern half of Pembrokeshire – “little England beyond Wales”, Gower peninsula in the western part of Glamorgan, or the Border Country – along the border with England. And Cardiff, Newport or Barry have a form of English of their own, English of conurbations.(Awberry: 86-88)

The direct Welsh influence can be found in the English language of the northern parts of the country. Here the spoken and written language is called the Welsh English or simply Wenglish. In the southern and south-eastern areas English is more influenced by neighbouring English English dialects. As a result two main dialects can be defined: Northern and Southern. The most typical general features of Welsh English are the following:


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Aspects of Welsh English on the Example of „My Neighbours“ by Caradoc Evans
Dresden Technical University  (Institut für Anglistische Sprachwissenschaft)
Proseminar "Varieties of English"
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Aspects, Welsh, English, Example, Neighbours“, Caradoc, Evans, Proseminar, Varieties, English
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Olga Risukhina (Author), 2007, Aspects of Welsh English on the Example of „My Neighbours“ by Caradoc Evans, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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