Over the past two months, one thing that became a thorny issue in my life is the Welsh language. Because I live in Wales, I’m surrounded by it, but I’ve never spoken a word of Welsh, or any other foreign language for that matter. In college, that might be about to change.
In my course, I have to do an abominable subject called the Welsh Baccalaureate. The lecturer kept on defaulting on various aspects of the unit, and worst of all, began endorsing the “Learndirect Welsh language course”. This secondary course is being implemented because apparently the powers that be have decided that anyone doing Welsh Bac to learn basic Welsh words.
I didn’t know what it was yet, but naturally, when it was announced in November, I was royally pissed off. To me, it was Wales trying to force it’s language down my throat. I never wanted anything to do with the Welsh language when I was a kid, and now that I’m almost twenty, they’ve decided to try and make me learn the language.
Of course, I did go on a blazing rant in class when it was announced, but not only did that not change the lecturers mind, I actually wound up feeling incredibly depressed because I felt like I had just alienated myself from my classmates. Thankfully, everything is still good between me and my classmates, but I still stand by my convictions. I felt that, by participating in that program (which I’m being made to do anyway), I would be allowing Welsh nationalists to have an unwanted influence over my life by giving them what they want.
Before you get the wrong idea, I’ve got nothing against the Welsh language. In fact, I’m fine with people learning the language, but only if they do so on their own free will. I believe that you shouldn’t have to learn the Welsh language if you don’t want to. To put it bluntly, I have to oppose that program because I believe in free choice, something the Welsh government obviously doesn’t believe in.
It’s not entirely my fault. When I was a kid, I spent the formative years of my childhood in America. Most people I know in Wales probably went to school learning both Welsh and English. I, however, did not. I learned to talk in America, but the time I spent there created a massive language barrier between me and the Welsh language. Also, I was raised with an American mindset, so the Welsh language, to me, ended up becoming part of the culture shock I felt while settling back into Wales.
When they first tried to teach Welsh to me in 2005 (back in Pembroke Dock), I didn’t like the lessons. They must have thought that an autistic boy like me wouldn’t cope in Welsh class, because in secondary school, they left Welsh out of my timetable, while everyone else did Welsh.
Yes, the Welsh language is a part of the country’s heritage, but I think that the task of preserving it shouldn’t be handled by people who just want an excuse to be major assholes to the rest of us. I just hope that the Welsh language doesn’t became so prominent that I’d have to move to America just to get a job.
The moral of the story is this: where and how you were raised as a kid will have a profound effect on your world view when you’re older.