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Does the old language endure? Change and continuity in contemporary Welsh grammar

[Pontio LR2 14.45-16.15]

Peredur Webb-Davies, Bangor University

“Tra môr yn fur i’r bur hoff bau, O! bydded i’r heniaith barhau,” says the chorus of Wales’ national anthem, but to what extent does that heniaith (‘old language’) Welsh still endure in the face of the considerable reduction in the numbers of Welsh speakers since the early 20th century and under the pressue of globalisation and bilingualism? What can we as linguists contribute to the discussion of the fate of Welsh in the 21st century?

This presentation will serve first as an overview of the different historical, sociocultural and linguistic issues that a Welsh linguist must take into account when making an analysis of the contemporary Welsh language, including a discussion of the interface between Welsh and English (given that all Welsh speakers in Wales are bilinguals).

Then the presentation will proceed to summarise some recent studies by Davies and colleagues (2009, 2010, 2014 etc.) on various aspects of Welsh grammar in usage (in both a national and international context), based on a corpus linguistic method and a variationist sociolinguistic approach to analysis.

These studies will serve to show that while some aspects of Welsh grammar are indeed exhibiting change under, arguably, the influence of English/bilingualism, other aspects show some resilience to change. There are therefore signs that, while Welsh will not remain unaffected by the current social and demographic shifts, the language may yet endure.

'1282 + 1536 + 1804 + 1911 = Wales' [Pontio LR2 16.30-18.00]

Peredur Lynch, Bangor University

What is Wales? Who are the Welsh? As one of the editors of the 'Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales' (2008), Peredur Lynch will attempt to answer such questions through the prism of four dates and four events.

Select bibliography:

Davies, P. and Deuchar, M. (2014) ‘Auxiliary deletion in the informal speech of Welsh-English bilinguals: a change in progress’. Lingua 143, 224-41.

Parafita Couto, M.C., Davies, P., Carter, D. And Deuchar, M. (2014) ‘Factors influencing code-switching’, in eds. E.M. Thomas and I. Mennen, Advances in the Study of Bilingualism, 111–38. Multiningual Matters: Bristol.

Carter, D., Deuchar, M., Davies, P. and Parafita Couto M.C. (2011) ‘A systematic comparison of factors affecting the choice of matrix language in three bilingual communities’. Journal of Language Contact 4, 153–83.

Davies, P. and Deuchar, M. (2010) “Using the Matrix Language Frame model to identify word order convergence in Welsh-English bilingual speech” in eds. A. Breitbarth, C. Lucas, S. Watts and D. Willis, Continuity and change in grammar, 77–96. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Deuchar, M. and Davies, P. (2009) ‘Code-switching and the future of Welsh’. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 195, 15–38.

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