International Education Journal

Articles from the Educational Research Conference 2001


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Small languages never die, they only fade away: The case of Welsh in Australia

Dr Arthur F. Hughes
Regency Institute


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This paper is based on the proposition that the Welsh language is the core element of Welsh cultural identity. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data, it presents a brief outline of those findings of a 1995 historico-sociological study of Welsh language maintenance and inter-generational transmission by a group of post-war Welsh migrants to Australia which bear directly on the school experiences of the second generation. The findings are presented against a brief background of related aspects of the current language situation in Wales.

Amongst the participants in this study, Welsh is confined almost exclusively to the home-domain and to the first generation. Loss of proficiency by the second generation was accelerated in almost every case by the primary and/or secondary school experience. Although attitudes towards maintenance were largely positive amongst both Welsh and non-Welsh speakers, they were seldom activated in terms of usage and support. Given the absence of structural support outside the home, the consequent failure of inter-generational transmission, and the reduction in the number of Welsh-speaking migrant arrivals, the prospects for the survival of the Welsh language in Australia are, at best, poor.




Hughes, A.F. (2001) Small languages never die, they only fade away: The case of Welsh in Australia. International Education Journal, 2 (4), 209-215.

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