« Holidays for the rest of us...transnationalists | Gene Expression Front Page | The Science of Snowflakes »
February 08, 2005

Welsh language use

In a recent post I said that about half of the population of Wales speak Welsh.

In comments it was pointed out that this was an overestimate, and the true figure is more like 20%.

I have checked the figures in the 2001 Census (Table 133 in the report for England and Wales). Here are some key results for all people aged 3 and above:

Millions (Percent)

Population of Wales: 2.8 (100)
Born in Wales 2.1 (75)
Not born in Wales 0.7 (25)

No skills in Welsh 2.0 (72)
Speaks, reads and writes
Welsh 0.478 (17)
Other knowledge of Welsh* 0.339 (12)

*Combining figures from 4 categories in the Table.

This gives a total of just under 30% of the population with some skills in Welsh.

If we consider only those born in Wales (and still living in Wales), the corresponding figures are:

Millions (Percent)

No skills in Welsh 1.4 (67)
Speaks, reads and writes
Welsh 0.412 (20)
Other knowledge of Welsh 0.287 (14)

This gives a total of about one-third of the Welsh born population with some skills in Welsh.

So my figure of one-half was an overestimate, but 20% may be an underestimate. Of course, a lot depends on the level of skill involved. For many years, most school children in Wales have been expected to learn some Welsh, so the proportion of people in Wales with at least a smattering of the language may be higher than these figures suggest. The Welsh-language TV station, S4C, claims that around a million people have some knowledge of Welsh.

While checking these points I found this useful webpage.

Posted by David B at 03:50 AM