Shaping the English Language

The effect that one language has on another is often profound, especially when populations that speak both languages regularly interact and exchange ideas.

That was how Welsh came to shape English so drastically, according to a recent article published by BBC News.

English and Welsh-speakers have mingled for 1,500 years, so it’s natural they would influence one another. But the new version of the Oxford English dictionary goes so far as to trace the origins of words back to their first recorded use. In many cases, that leads us to the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. 635 entries in the new Oxford English dictionary can be attributed to Thomas, due to his “rich use of language.”

According to these scholars, we can thank the Welsh for words like “penguin,” “taffy,” and “cariad.”

These new found ties may also help explain how English differs so much, and in so many unexpected ways, from other Germanic languages.

Sadly, the Welsh language seems to be going the way of so many others. There are not nearly as many speakers as there once were, largely because English has become the predominant language in many bilingual households.

Now the government is getting involved, encouraging the use of Welsh in everyday life, and encouraging children younger than five to learn it simultaneously with English. Officials say the biggest challenge facing them will be to create more opportunities in which native speakers have the opportunity to speak Welsh, without feeling they are leaving someone who may only speak English out of the conversation.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.