History of Welsh Language


The Welsh language, also known as Cymraeg, is an ancient Celtic language that has been spoken in Wales for over a thousand years. Today, it is estimated that around 700,000 people in Wales speak Welsh, with many others learning it as a second language.

Origins of Welsh Language

The Welsh language evolved from the Brythonic branch of the Celtic language family, which was spoken throughout much of Britain during the Iron Age. By the end of the Roman occupation of Britain in the 5th century, the language had become distinct from the other Brythonic languages spoken in what is now England, Scotland, and Cornwall.

Medieval Welsh

The Welsh language was first written down in the 6th century in the Latin alphabet, with the earliest surviving Welsh manuscript being the Y Gododdin, a collection of poems from the late 6th century. The earliest Welsh literature was mainly poetry and was written by bards who composed their works orally and then committed them to writing.

During the Middle Ages, Welsh was the language of the Welsh courts, and the language continued to flourish in the face of English dominance. In the 13th century, the Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd established a Welsh legal system and commissioned the first Welsh translation of the Bible.

Decline of Welsh Language

The decline of the Welsh language began in the 16th century, when the Acts of Union between England and Wales made English the language of government and law. During the 19th century, the English language became increasingly dominant, and many Welsh speakers were pressured to abandon their native language.

Welsh Language Revival

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a growing movement to revive the Welsh language, which culminated in the establishment of the Welsh Language Society in 1962. The Society campaigned for greater recognition of Welsh as an official language, and their efforts were successful. Today, the Welsh language is recognized as an official language of Wales and is widely used in education, media, and public life.

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the Welsh language, and efforts have been made to promote and preserve it. The Welsh Government has set a target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050, and many initiatives have been launched to support the language, such as the establishment of Welsh language centers and the introduction of Welsh-medium schools.

In conclusion, the Welsh language has a long and fascinating history, and despite the challenges it has faced over the centuries, it remains an important part of Welsh culture and identity. With the support of the Welsh Government and the efforts of Welsh language advocates, it is likely that the language will continue to thrive and evolve for many years to come.

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