[lg policy] automatic discard notice

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 21 14:36:26 UTC 2014

To: Language Policy List <lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>,
Date: Thu, 22 May 2014 12:07:42 +0100
Subject: [lg policy] Event in Cardiff, 27 June: Potential positive and
negatives in the Welsh Government's drive for increased bilingualism
I've managed to convince the estimable Wales Institute of Social & Economic
Research, Data & Methods (WISERD), in association with the Social Research
Association, to host me and some associates of mine for a panel discussion
about language policy issues in Wales. It will take place in Cardiff on 27
June, with a fascinating series of talks, and a talk by me :)

The web page for the event, including synopses of the talks and booking
information, is here:

And for your convenience, here's the blurb from that page:

This panel discussion will review the Welsh Government’s drive for
increased bilingualism, and offer a balanced look at the potential for both
positive and negative outcomes to emerge from these language policy
interventions, based on recent research.

The wider context for this discussion is a prevailingly optimistic
cross-party political consensus about the need for increased bilingualism,
a mix of optimism and agnosticism in academic fields, and a vibrant
(sometimes heated) hubbub of civic debate in the Welsh public sphere. We
hope to inform all angles of this debate with insights from research into
Welsh language policymaking, Welsh-English bilingual schooling, and
Welsh-language broadcasting.

1.00pm  Welcome and introduction by WISERD

1.25pm  Chair’s introduction, Professor Gwynedd Parry, Professor of Law and
Legal History, Director of the Hywel Dda Research Institute, Swansea

1.45pm  Potential positives and negatives in Welsh language policy
documents, Dr. Dave Sayers, Sheffield Hallam University & Swansea University
This talk discusses the different priorities stated in the Welsh
Government’s flagship policy documents published over the last decade.
Overall these texts tend to prioritise the Welsh language as an end in
itself, separately prioritised over and above the pursuit of human
wellbeing. At least, that is the balance reflected in the explicit wording
of these texts. Understandably this is not the whole story; there are
clearly layers of implicit meaning within plans to increase bilingualism,
to do with community empowerment and cultural survival. Nevertheless there
is a shortfall in how those additional meanings are articulated. Meanwhile
policy texts contain some justifications for excluding individuals from the
workforce as a result of low Welsh proficiency, which could be a palpable
detriment to those employees’ wellbeing. There are clear potential positive
and negatives in Welsh language policy texts, which emerge under this sort
of close reading.

2.15pm  Potential positives and negatives in bilingual education, Dr.
Charlotte Selleck, University of Copenhagen
This talk discusses the findings of an ethnographic study among young
people in a south-west Wales town, including two contrasting schools: one
predominantly Welsh-medium and one predominantly English-medium. The
findings suggest that students’ experiences of ‘choice’ (a watchword of
Welsh language policy) are inconsistent. Positive aspects include
encouraging young people to foster pride and enthusiasm in the Welsh
language amongst each other, encouraging both increased bilingualism and a
sense of shared identity. Meanwhile negative outcomes are felt through
top-down directives from teaching staff, urging Welsh use and sanctioning
English – spurring tensions and, paradoxically, rebellions towards English.
There are deeply fundamental questions at play here. By inadvertently
fostering such rebellion, are current tendencies towards ‘separate’
bilingualism hastening the very language shift they aim to prevent? Can the
Welsh language be strengthened by a more open and flexible approach, or
would this be ineffective in the long run? And if the future of the Welsh
language is ultimately down to younger generations, then how can power and
control be delivered to them?

2.45pm  Potential positives and negatives in Welsh language broadcasting,
Dr. Elen Robert, Cardiff University
With a remit to broadcast principally in the Welsh language, Sianel Pedwar
Cymru (S4C) has a number of internal language policies specifying how Welsh
should be used. There are written downstream of Welsh Government policy,
sharing many of its principles. Particular attention is paid to avoiding
borrowings from English. Professional broadcasters carefully control their
use of Welsh terminology, while non-professional participants (members of
the public invited on to discuss an issue) are not under such official
constraints. There are potential positive and negative outcomes here,
discussed in this talk with findings from a detailed analysis of S4C
broadcasts. These include heartening cases of productive accommodation
between broadcasters and guests where English borrowings are used, and
contrasting tensions relating to the ‘correct’ form of a given word. There
is also an issue of potential employment barriers in S4C itself, for those
who are proficient in Welsh but who may use English borrowings for various
reasons. This feeds into a wider debate over language purism, defending
Welsh from perceived infiltration, and whether this is the most effective
way to promote the language.

3.15pm  Discussion

4.15pm  Close

Hope to see you all there!


Dr. Dave Sayers
Senior Lecturer, Dept Humanities, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Honorary Research Fellow, Arts & Humanities, Swansea University, UK
dave.sayers at cantab.net | http://swansea.academia.edu/DaveSayers
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