Everyone in Wales will speak WELSH for the next 300 years
Anyone in Wales could speak WELSH within the next 300 years because scientists claim that the language “is not in danger of dying out”
- Researchers investigated the number of competent speakers in Wales and Maori
- They discovered that enough people now speak Welsh to grow the number
- In fact, they predict rapid growth after 100 years of fairly static speaker speeds
According to researchers, anyone in Wales will be able to speak Welsh within 300 years, saying that “there is no danger of dying out.”
The study, by a team at Canterbury University in New Zealand, says the number of speakers will increase steadily over three centuries, but will be “fragile” in the beginning.
The team has developed a mathematical model to better predict how vulnerable different languages are to die out – or to survive in the long term.
The team looked at the trajectory of two languages identified as vulnerable – Welsh and Maori – to try and predict which one would survive.
Almost everyone in Wales will be able to speak Welsh within 300 years, according to researchers who say it is “not in danger of dying out”
They say that Welsh is on its way to prosper over the next 300 years – with almost all Wales residents able to speak the language by the 24th century.
According to the 2011 census, Welsh is spoken by about 20 percent of the population of Wales, although it can be up to 30 percent if you take 2019 predictions from the Welsh Statistics Office.
“The model predicts that the revitalization efforts will be successful and that in the long run Wales will have a majority of competent Welsh users,” their article says.
The team says there will be a gradual increase, with possible dips up and down in the short term, before the number of speakers increases dramatically in the longer period of 200 to 300 years.
Street signs, official documents and education are bilingual with English and Welsh in Wales – part of measures to increase the use and awareness of the language
‘Despite the strong long-term trend, the initial revitalization period for the first 50–100 years is relatively fragile.
“This will happen with a continuous minority status and low ascent rates, and therefore potentially sensitive to changes in learning rates or intergenerational transfer.”
The team says that by 2300, about 74 percent of the population of Wales will be proficient in the Welsh language.
This is partly due to measures to increase the number of Welsh speakers.
They say that Welsh is “not in danger” to go out and in fact is on its way to thrive for the next 300 years – with almost all Wales residents being able to speak the language in the 24th century
Street signs, official documents and even television broadcasts are in Welsh and in English and there are Welsh language schools throughout the country.
THE NUMBER OF WELSH SPEAKERS IN TIME
- 1901 – 50 percent
- 1911 – 44 percent
- 1921 – 37 percent
- 1931 – 37 percent
- 1941 – 29 percent
- 1951 – 26 percent
- 1961 – 21 percent
- 1971 – 19 percent
- 1981 – 19 percent
- 1991 – 19 percent
- 2001 – 21 percent
- 2011 – 19 percent
- 2019 – 29 percent (estimate)
- 2200 – 50 percent (projection)
- 2300 – 74 percent (projection)
- 1901 – 2011: Census data
- 2019: Stats Wales
- 2200-2300: Canterbury University
They made their predictions for the future of the language by analyzing the number of households currently able to keep the language alive in Welsh.
That number has fallen steadily since 1901, when more than half of the population of Wales could speak Welsh.
It reached a low point in 1971 and has since been around 19 to 20 percent – although predictions suggest that it could now be closer to 30 percent.
At around 20 percent, however, the team says that this is more than enough to not only stay active, but also to thrive over time.
Maori, the other language they studied, on the other hand, does not have enough skilled speakers to make it – only 5 percent of the population can speak it skillfully.
“The model can predict changes in skill levels over time and, ultimately, whether a certain endangered language is on its way to extinction or recovery in the long term,” said the team led by Tessa Barrett-Walker.
“We calibrate the model using data from Wales and show that the model predicts that the Welsh language will thrive in the long run.”
They say that it is possible to save Maori from extinction with sufficient difficulty, but that it will not be an easy process.
“We conclude that with current learning rates, Maori is on its way to extinction, but identify strategies that can help restore it to an upward trajectory.”
The findings are published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.