The Info List - Welsh Language Society

--- Advertisement ---

(i) (i) (i)

The WELSH LANGUAGE SOCIETY (Welsh : Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, often abbreviated to CYMDEITHAS or CYMDEITHAS YR IAITH) is a direct action pressure group in Wales
campaigning for the right of Welsh people to use the Welsh language
Welsh language
in every aspect of their lives. The current Chairperson of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg is Heledd Gwyndaf .


* 1 History and background

* 2 Campaigns

* 2.1 Hawliau i\'r Gymraeg (Rights to the Welsh language) * 2.2 Cymunedau Cynaliadwy (Sustainable Communities) * 2.3 Dyfodol Digidol (Digital Future) * 2.4 Grŵp Addysg (Education Group)

* 3 Responding to the 2011 Census results * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 External links


The first protest at Pont Trefechan in Aberystwyth
, 1963

The Society was established in name on 4 August 1962 at Pontarddulais in South Wales
, but did not have a constitution until 18 May 1963. The formation was at least partly inspired by the annual BBC Wales Radio Lecture given on 13 February 1962 by Saunders Lewis
Saunders Lewis
and entitled Tynged yr iaith (The fate of the language).

The Society's first public protest took place in February 1963 at Pont Trefechan in Aberystwyth
, where around seventy members and supporters held a 'sit-in' blocking road traffic for half an hour.

The first campaigns were for official status for the language, with a call for Welsh-language tax returns, schools, electoral forms, post office signs, birth certificates and so on. This was done through the formation of 'cells', the first operating in Bangor in April 1963 by Owain Owain who also founded and edited the Society's only publication, Tafod y Ddraig ('The Dragon's Tongue') and designed the logo. Protestors dump English only road signs at the steps of the Welsh Office
Welsh Office
in Cathays Park , Cardiff
. This started in 1970 and ended in 1972.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith believes in direct action and in the course of its campaigns over a thousand people have appeared before the courts for their part in various campaigns, many receiving prison sentences, making it Britain's largest protest group since the suffragettes – in terms of fines and the numbers sent to prison. Typical actions include painting slogans on buildings owned by businesses, and other minor criminal damage. At the beginning of the 1970s Cymdeithas began to campaign for a Welsh-language radio and television service. Radio Cymru was established in 1977, but in 1979 the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher announced that it would not keep its election promise of the establishment of a separate Welsh-language television channel. Some protesters refused to buy television licences and others climbed up television masts and invaded television studios. The TV channel S4C
was launched in 1982.

On 24 July 2004 (five weeks after launching), Radio Carmarthenshire 's studios in Narberth were invaded by eleven activists from the Welsh Language Society Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg. They were protesting against Radio Carmarthenshire's decision to limit the amount of its Welsh-language programming. The offices and studios were stormed during a live broadcast, taking Radio Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire off-air for fifteen minutes. According to Keri Jones (who later branded the members of the group as "terrorists "), his head of sales was injured, and needed hospital treatment for a fractured wrist sustained during the scuffles which ensued. Police arrested eleven activists, and subsequently released them pending further enquiries.

Cymdeithas claim that 50% of the population in Carmarthenshire speak Welsh as a first language, but less than 5% of Radio Carmarthenshire's output is in Welsh. As a result of complaints and pressure from the society and individuals, the United Kingdom's broadcasting watchdog Ofcom
issued Radio Carmarthenshire with a 'yellow card' warning in late 2004: any further claims of the station not conforming to its licence agreement will result in the station being severely reprimanded by Ofcom.

Cymdeithas is a largely voluntary movement, which also employs five full-time members of staff, one at its head office in Aberystwyth
, Ceredigion, one in its Caernarfon
office, two in its Cardiff
office and one in the Llanfihangel-ar-Arth office.


According to the language group\'s website, its campaigns have contributed to securing the following policy changes for the language:

* 1960s – Bilingual road signs * 1970s – Welsh-language television channel campaign * 1982 – S4C, the world's only Welsh-language television channel, was established * 1980s – Campaign for a Property Act to help sustain Welsh-speaking communities * 1993 – Welsh Language Act 1993 enacted, requiring public bodies to offer limited Welsh-language services * 2000s – Campaign for new Welsh Language Act; Campaign to keep local schools * 2010 – Official status for the language under the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 * 2011 – Welsh-medium higher education college, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol , established

The principal campaigns can be divided into four major areas:


At the beginning of the 21st century, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg started a campaign for a new Welsh Language Act. The Welsh Language Act 1993 declared that Welsh should be treated on an equal basis with English, but Cymdeithas argued that this fell short of what is needed.

In 2007, the society published its own Welsh Language Measure, draft legislation which would amongst other things establish official status for the Welsh language
Welsh language
and rights to use it, and establish the office of the Welsh Language Commissioner.

In 2011, based in large part on Cymdeithas's proposals, the Welsh National Assembly passed the Welsh Language Measure (Wales) 2011, which established the Welsh language
Welsh language
as an official language of Wales, and introduced the