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By Peaceful Means

On 13th April on the London Underground, a woman sustained head injuries after being attacked by two female passengers for speaking her native Spanish. Her assailants are believed to be English-language activists, who believe that English (a minority Low German dialect with barely one billion speakers) should be given legal protection to prevent its natural decline. Since physical assaults on Spanish speakers are potentially illegal, and can forfeit the sympathies of educated Welsh speakers, Rob Mimpriss considers what non-violent means English nationalists can use to protect their threatened culture:

1. First, make absolutely sure that your children speak English, and can use it in a variety of social settings. They will naturally prefer to speak Algonquin, Jersey French and Aragonese because all their friends speak them, and because they are the languages of popular entertainment. Explain to your children that you are not against those languages, but you want them to be able to speak their native language too. Insist that English is taught as a language in schools, just like Croatian or Polish. Over time, English may come to be used as the medium of instruction for Tea-making, Deportment, and General Studies.

2. Press for the establishment of a publishing industry in England, a national library in England, at least one university in England, and an English-language television channel. If your children are considering going to university, encourage them to consider studying in England, and if possible, through the medium of English. If they are considering a career in broadcasting, help them to see beyond the low intellectual standard of English-language broadcasting about gardening and home decoration, or interviews with Nigel Farage. The important thing is that the English language is being used. One cannot expect to rival Saunders Lewis every day.

3. Demand the official use of English as a language of government. Refuse to pay your taxes or your TV licence fees unless they are sent to you in English; when they take you to court, insist that English is your mother tongue, and demand a Welsh-language interpreter. They will put you in prison. But if Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Liam Fox can endure their sentences out of love for their country, why should you resent it?

4. Familiarise yourself with the entirety of your national history and heritage, since there is little to gain from casting yourself as a cultural nationalist when you have no culture to speak of. The lives of Rhodri the Great and Hywel the Good may be of greater historic importance, but Samuel Rowbotham, Mrs Beeton and Dr Crippen laid the groundwork of modern English culture. Don’t be ashamed of having English books on your shelf. Although Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens and George Eliot may seem narrowly concerned with life in England, this reflects the preoccupations of English readers at the time, and does not prove that they themselves were unduly nationalistic.

5. Finally, accept your position realistically, and with good humour. The crowds of tourists who flock into Stratford on Avon, drinking cheap Mŵs Piws and loudly speaking in Welsh are not being deliberately disrespectful of English culture: they have probably never even heard of Shakespeare. One day even Basque or Breton will die when the sun explodes, and the stars decay, and the universe expands into the unending reaches of eternal darkness and unbearable cold. You could get a well-paid job in Llangristiolus or Llanerchymedd, and spend your evenings watching Pobl y Cwm. Watching English national culture die needn’t be the end of the world.

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I am the author of three short story collections. Reasoning and For His Warriors, originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join Prayer at the End in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016. I am a member by election of the Welsh Academy.

I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015), Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, 2017), and A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017). In addition, I have translated fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros.