A culture lives in its language or dies in a museum

My speech at the Rali dros enw uniaith Gymraeg i’r Senedd [Rally for a Welsh-only name for the Senedd]

My good friends at Plaid Cymru have sent me some briefing notes about the important legal issues raised by the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill. And I am grateful to them. And they suggest I speak to you of those issues.

But I although I am a lawyer, you have invited me today not for that reason but because I am a New Zealander who has spoken of how policy changes in NZ to promote the use of Te Reo Maori, the Maori language, sparked a resurgence in Maori culture in New Zealand.

New Zealanders can see how the Maori people carry their cultural inheritance with pride. The world can see how New Zealanders carry Maori culture at the forefront of how we, as New Zealanders, project ourselves

I shall not linger too long on the rugby. Perhaps wisely. But you see this clearly when you compare the haka of the 1970s with that of today. Look at the cultural pride the nation shares. All of NZ benefits. And I want, and everyone who loves Wales should want, all of Wales to benefit from resurgent Diwylliant Cymru. [Welsh culture]

What I say next I say with genuine humility – because I am not Welsh. But I cannot understand the objection to calling the Senedd the Senedd. I gather the argument is that some people living in Wales will not understand what the word means. If that is so that is – and being an outsider obliges you to speak with humility but also allows you to speak with clarity – that is a terrible state of affairs: laith Cymru yw diwylliant y genedl. [The language of Wales is the culture of the nation.] If you do not know what is the Senedd then for Godssake learn! And calling it the Senedd is an opportunity to teach.

It is often said that if you are of privilege equality feels like oppression. It is less often said that if you are oppressed equality can come to feel like privilege. Having a title in English for those who do not care enough to learn is not good enough. If you rightly love your culture you should not bear it.

A culture resides in its language or it dies in a museum.

Can I finish with some words from John Robert Jones. And I ask for your forgiveness for not speaking them to you in Welsh:

“Leaving your country is a common and sometimes sad experience. But I know of something which is much more heart rending, for you could always return to your native land. And that is, not that you are leaving your country, but that your country is leaving you, being finally drawn away into the hands of another people, another culture.”

Ffrindiau, gwn na fyddwch byth yn caniatáu i hyn ddigwydd. [My friends, I know you will never allow this to happen].