Researchers say that the Welsh language will “thrive” and by 2300, almost three-quarters of the population could be Welsh speakers.
Eluned Morgan, Welsh Language minister, said the perceived rise in the number of Welsh speakers over the last decade is “encouraging”. In this article, we will examine how endangered languages can survive and grow, using Welsh as a case study.
For British businesses operating in the Welsh market, the recovery of the language is a positive sign and reaffirms the value of creating translations which speak to the growing number of Welsh speakers or risk alienating a valuable demographic.
Crunching the numbers
A 2018 Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey revealed that there are 874,700 Welsh speakers, a rise of 148,100 from 726,600 in 2008, a sharp rise of 20% in just 10 years.
The Welsh Government is aiming to further increase the number of speakers to one million by 2050. The data was collected as part of the Annual Population Survey, as 31,000 people in 14,500 different households were asked about their Welsh language skills, across a range of councils throughout Wales.
The reason why the increase in Welsh speakers is perceived, rather than known, is because the data only covered a sample of Welsh households rather than the entire country. We’ll know the significance of the increase in speakers after the upcoming census in March 2021.
The reason why the increase in Welsh speakers is so encouraging is that there were real fears in the country that the language was dying out among young people. Traditional Welsh-speaking communities have been weakened by younger people moving away to pursue work, as well as new-build housing developments bringing in new inhabitants who don’t speak the language.
The ONS survey data shows there has potentially been a 20 per cent rise in the number of Welsh speakers in just a decade. If we project this current growth forward at the same rate, by 2048, there could be 932,535 Welsh speakers, just under the 1,000,000 target of the Welsh Government. If this does come to pass, it will represent a growth in the number of speakers of 205,935 from 2018, that’s just 30 years.
The value of Welsh translations for British businesses
With the number of Welsh speakers on the rise, creating Welsh translations has value for UK businesses. Businesses certainly can’t presume all Welsh people speak just English.
This truism doesn’t only apply to Wales, but markets around the world – your business will build better relations when you speak to customers in their preferred language.
Remember, as we addressed in a previous article, country doesn’t equal language.
A good example of the value of Welsh language translations is a funny incident which occurred in 2010. This famous picture was shared all over the internet and social media platforms. What it uncovers is emblematic of the great need to localise messaging in Wales, to deliver clear messages to a diverse audience.
Of course, the sign should clearly translate the English message limiting vehicle access.
However, here is what the Welsh text says, when translated back to English: “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated”. This error occurred as Welsh Government officials sent the text to be translated by a welsh translator via email, only to receive the recipient’s out of office reply.
Getting your business translation right is the difference between successfully communicating with your target audience, and potentially embarrassing incidents.
Professional translations improve brand image
For professional language translation services, you can rely on us. As a team of translators and project managers, we’ve got worldwide experience and we’ve been around for over 17 years, providing high-quality translations across several sectors.
Our translators are always native speakers and subject-matter experts, meaning they understand the subtleties of the language they translate into, the content’s purpose and nuances of the market. Plus, with the support of our dedicated and detail-oriented project managers, you’ll never have a situation like the Welsh road sign translation error.