Over the past seven years, Shwmae Sumae Day has called on champions across Wales to help promote the national day of celebrating the Welsh language, held on the 15th of October. These champions encourage the act of starting each conversation in Welsh, and using simple phrases, as a means of normalising the language amongst their networks and communities.
Five champions will be announced during the week, and we are very pleased to announce that our first champion for 2019 is Neil Rowlands, originally from Cardiff, now living in Newport. Neil is a Data Analyser and the founder of the online bilingual magazine ‘Parallel’ – a website that makes reading the Welsh language more accessible to a wider audience. He was inspired to start learning Welsh from hearing the language being spoken by colleagues in the Welsh department of Swansea University. At the time he was working next to the department, and hearing the Welsh language spoken daily made him realise for the first time that there were communities of people that use the language naturally. This was the same community that came to support his journey as a new learner, along with the language centre at Tŷ Tawe in Swansea. After developing his language skills by practicing speaking, he began to contribute back to the Welsh language community by volunteering, running a weekly Welsh learners’ group, working ad-hoc in the Tŷ Tawe bookshop and in local gigs. Describing his experience of learning, Neil said:
“Learning and using the Welsh language has given me the chance to discover the culture and literature of Wales and has allowed me to create hundreds of new contacts and friends. If I hadn’t attempted to say ‘Shwmae’ to people at the beginning of my learning journey, I wouldn’t have had all the great experiences I have had, nor had the chance to give back something to Welsh culture. By now, I can’t imagine my life without the language.”
Explaining the importance of Shwmae Sumae Day, Neil says:
“There are many people in Wales that have some sort of relationship with the Welsh language, but sometimes we don’t use the language enough. It matters not one jot if we’re first language or from a non-Welsh language background. For the language to survive we all need to use it as much as possible – it’s better to try and hold a conservation with a little bit of Welsh and some English words that just speaking solely in English. As someone once said, better slack Welsh than slick English! It’s vitally important for people across the country to hear the language, on the street, in shops and schools and show the call for the language on tils and cash machines to give large companies a reason for provide services through the language”
‘Diolch’ to Neil for his enthusiasm and commitment to the Welsh language and supporting the Shwmae Sumae campaign this year. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and assistance and see also our website www.shwmae.cymru for resources that can help you organise events for the day. See Parallel the online bilingual magazine here: https://parallel.cymru/
Mae’r Gymraeg yn perthyn i bawb. The Welsh language belongs to us all.