The Y Fro Gymraeg is a linguistic region in Wales where a huge percentage of the population speaks Welsh. It is the heartland of Welsh language just like Gaeltacht (Ireland) is an Irish-language region, and Gaidhealtachd is Gaelic speaking area. The main difference between the Y Fro Gymraeg and other Language regions like Gaidhealtachd and Gaeltacht is the fact that it doesn’t have official government recognition.
The Welsh Language
The Welsh language is a branch of Celtic languages that is used natively in Y Wladfa (Argentina), England, and Wales. Historically, the Welsh language has been referred to as "Cymric," "Cambric," or "Cambrian." According to the UK Census 2011, the number of Welsh speakers in Wales reduced from 20.8% (582,000) in 2001 to 19% in 2011 (562,000). The Welsh language gained official status in Wales in 2011 making it the only de jure language in the United Kingdom. Welsh was the primary language used in Wales until 1911 when it became a minority language spoken by only 43.5% of the people. The introduction of the Welsh medium education helped increase the number of Welsh speakers after it reduced for decades.
Recognition of the Y Fro Gymraeg
Owain Owain, a Bangor college lecturer, formulated the significance of the Y Fro Gymraeg to Wales in 1964 when he published a map which outlined the Y Fro Gymraeg in the Tafor y Ddraig magazine. Owain stipulated that the only way Wales could be won is by winning the Y Fro Gymraeg in his article dated November 12, 1964. The origin of the Welsh language region stems from radio lecture of February 13, 1962, known as the fate of languages (Tynged yr Laith) by Lewis Saunders. Saunders stressed on the idea of establishing the dominance of the Welsh language in numerous Wales administrative areas. Even though Saunders didn’t come up with the idea of the Welsh language region, he is considered to have inspired the formation of the Welsh Language Society. The Welsh Language Society fights for the rights of the Welsh-speaking people to use their language in all aspects of their lives.
Welsh Counties in the Y Fro Gymraeg
Previously, the entire western part of Wales from Anglesey to Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire were considered to be part of the Welsh language region. However, the number of Welsh speakers has reduced over the years and currently only four counties are in this region. The central counties with the highest number of Welsh-speakers include Anglesey, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, and Gwynedd. Other surrounding areas which are considered to be part of the Y Fro Gymraeg include Powys, north Pembrokeshire, and Neath-Port Talbot. Other places inhabited by Welsh speaking people include parts of Swansea district, Flintshire, countryside, and uplands of Denbighshire and Conwy.
The Welsh-medium education accounts for over 70% of the timetables used by the schools in the Y Fro Gymraeg. About 16% of the pupils attend Welsh-medium learning institutions while 10% attend bilingual schools. The introduction of Welsh-medium education is the main contributor to the revival of the Welsh language. The first Welsh-medium secondary school opened in the region was the Ysgol-Glan Clwyd in Rhyl in 1956. There are no private Welsh-medium schools in Wales, although there is one in London.
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