You say potato, I say tatws: The terrain of linguistic coexistence in Wales
Griffin, Jeffrey L.
This study examines the linguistic coexistence in Wales of Welsh and English in public signage and other public spheres and the ongoing normalization of Welsh through a reorientation of the linguistic landscape. Concerted efforts by the now defunct Welsh Language Board, the Welsh language commissioner, the Welsh National Assembly, and other governmental entities have aimed at preserving and promoting the Welsh language. While Welsh is spoken by just a fifth of the population, it is increasingly woven into the sociocultural fabric of contemporary Wales. Given this revitalization, the language is considered by linguists to be a success story in language preservation. This study, which was carried out in Cardiff, the Welsh capital; Conwy, a town in North Wales; and Betws-y-Coed, a village in North Wales, documents the visual contexts in which Welsh appears on the streets and sidewalks, in retail establishments, and in museums and other places of cultural importance. Such symbolic use of a minority language amounts to what one scholar has called “a reorientation of normative space.” One notable finding is that when Welsh appears in the linguistic landscape, in the vast majority of cases, it reflects a top-down process driven by public institutions. Another key finding is that when Welsh and English appear together, typically the lettering is the same size in both languages and the amount of text is about the same. However, in a majority of cases, Welsh is featured more prominently by being displayed above or to the left of the English, although that is much more likely in Conwy or Betws-y-Coed than in Cardiff.
linguistic landscape; minority languages; Welsh