Welsh on the Web: Our responsibility to create Welsh language content and platforms
Deian ap Rhisiart, one of our Digital Inclusion Advisers, talks Welsh language resources & content and looks to the future of using the language online.
With the translation of the Bible into Welsh in 1588 by Bishop William Morgan and the grammatical translations of John Davies of Mallwyd, historians on the whole view the events and this period as particularly significant in the history and survival of the Welsh language. In addition to these milestones, with its pioneering schools in the eighteenth century, Gruffudd Jones of Llanddowror ensured that literacy was introduced to the masses through the medium of Welsh.
Stepping into a time machine and fast forward to the twentieth century, we see in the 1960s the explosion of Welsh music, with leading lights such as Dafydd Iwan and Huw Jones launching a new vibrant Welsh Music Scene that is still with us today. The Welsh Language Society’s slogan of ‘Popeth yn Gymraeg‘ (Everything in Welsh) in the 1960’s became iconic.
And now in the twenty-first century we see another revolution, the digital revolution, in which the Welsh language will have to evolve and survive once again and Welsh speakers will need to be able to surf the internet in Welsh.
In order to ensure that the Welsh language embraces the digital world, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg in recent years called for the establishment of a digital language ‘menter’ to develop content through the medium of Welsh. There are still big gaps in certain aspects of everyday life but there is still, however, a wealth of content available in Welsh on the internet. But it’s really important that we use it! You may be familiar with what’s already available.
For Welsh learners, it is best to start off with websites such as Say Something in Welsh and the Duolingo app, but you can also spend hours watching and listening to tutorials and podcasts on Spotify and YouTube or find out more about Welsh language courses on Dysgu Cymraeg.
To keep up to date with the news, of course, you can read about national and international news on Golwg360. One of the largest Welsh language websites is BBC Cymru Fyw, with a whole host of articles, interviews, from light to serious video items all in one place. Enough to keep you occupied for hours and keep you updated on current affairs.
An extremely busy independently owned website for jobseekers in Welsh is Lleol.cymru which has a list of job vacancies and it also has a section for cultural news content. There is also the development of the S4C news app that can be downloaded from Google Play here.
Hansh is a hugely popular video service mainly for young people where all sorts of topics are discussed in a concise and entertaining way. Hansh has seen hundreds of thousands of views on videos such as the legendary internet chef Chris Roberts from Caernarfon. S4C also offers various services on platforms, on iPlayer and S4C Clic.
It well worth searching through Wikipedia for thousands of pages of information in Welsh ranging from wildlife to political figures! Along with Wikipedia, the Dictionary of Welsh Biography is sourced with reliable and accurate information on Welsh historical figures.
It is also worth having a look at the Papurau Bro website administered by Mentrau Iaith Cymru which is a platform for the Papurau Bro (community newspapers) across Wales and there is also Bro360 for the hyper local news in your area.
During the lockdown, the Ambobdim community app and platform established itself as one of the most popular Welsh language platforms broadcasting concerts, interviews, gigs, festivals entertaining people from the luxury of their sofa. It’s worth a visit on the Ambobdim website to see what’s on. It’s a very busy website full of fascinating content.
Not forgetting all the music that are also on the music streaming site Spotify or Youtube from Meic Stevens to Bryn Fôn, or rare footage of popular duette Ryan and Ronnie performing on YouTube, be it Welsh music or film archive.
The Meddwl.org website for example is packed with essential content for promoting your mental health – this is a website run by a committed group of volunteers to promote Mental wellness in Welsh which is essential. The Welsh language has a significant following and it is essential that we as speakers use these resources.
However, more content and more platforms are needed to appeal to all generations. As a culture we are competing against a huge Anglo-American industry (and mass culture), and without the huge financial resources, it is very difficult to compete.
But it must be said that we are succeeding despite limited resources. Government has a role here to invest and stimulate by creating the conditions for creating new content and ensuring that the Welsh language is relevant in the digital world.
The Welsh Government has promised that this is part of a vision to reach one million speakers by 2050, with a significant emphasis on digital. But we as Welsh speakers have a duty to create interesting and relevant content and create new platforms as well, to embody the Welsh Language Society’s slogan, ‘Popeth yn Gymraeg‘ ‘Everything in Welsh’. And so we return to the beginning, and we need to apply the same mentality as they did over four centuries ago to translating the Holy Bible.
Digital Communities Wales has a ‘Welsh on the Web’ session looking at these resources, feel free to email deian.apRhisiart@wales.coop to arrange free training.