Eluned Morgan, Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning

First published:
5 December 2018
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Cymraeg 2050 makes the following statement "ensure the continued development of Welsh language infrastructure (dictionaries, terminology, the translation profession) as integral to the delivery of this strategy." This objective belongs to the third theme of Cymraeg 2050 namely ‘creating favourable conditions – infrastructure and context’.

Technology is one element of this work. That’s why, in October, I announced a Welsh Language Technology Action Plan which identifies 3 specific areas to be developed in order for technology to support the language (Welsh speech technology, computer aided translation, Conversational Artificial Intelligence).

I’m now going to look at linguistic infrastructure – these 2 areas intertwine naturally. Linguistic infrastructure includes dictionaries, terminology resources, procedures to standardise the orthography and place-names, corpora (namely large collections of printed texts or sound recordings), and the translation profession.

These things are absolutely essential: effective infrastructure can help build the confidence of people and make it possible to use the language in a variety of situations, as well as maintaining and raising the status of the Welsh language.

Having the correct linguistic infrastructure in place is important to ensure that people are able to use Welsh with ease. It includes making sure that adequate translation resources are available to support organisations to meet the needs of the Welsh language standards. It also supports the development of accurate and consistent Welsh materials for members of the public, for specialists such as translators and for school children. Without the linguistic infrastructure, it will not be possible to respond to the latest technological developments in full: linguistic corpora feeds many of these developments. As I said in my foreword to the Welsh Language Technology Action Plan " I’m conscious that technology develops quickly. I’m eager for the Welsh language to move with it."

The Welsh Government is already taking this area of work seriously. We fund Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, a historical dictionary of the Welsh language, which is a treasury that is comparable to the Oxford English Dictionary in English. This underpins all the other directories for the Welsh language e.g. dictionaries, terminologies, grammar books, decisions on orthography, etc. We are pleased to be able to continue to fund this vital resource this year.

We have also funded Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru this year (the association of Welsh translators and interpreters), which is the only professional association for Welsh-English translators. Our grant to the association is important in the context of infrastructure and use of the Welsh language.

But more needs to be done.

What is essential now is to provide a long-term strategic direction to this important field and improve how the different elements work together in the interests of Welsh speakers everywhere, and of all abilities. That’s why, during this year's National Eisteddfod, I held a seminar to discuss how to move this work forward.

During the seminar, I listened to people's views: providers on the one hand and individuals who use these resources on a day-to-day basis on the other hand. Their clear message was that there is a need for better co-ordination between all the elements in order to improve the provision for users, whether they’re members of the public, translators, teachers or school children.

I also heard that there is a need to avoid duplication, to ensure that resources and expertise are being used to the full, and that there is also a need for a rapid and strategic response to the diverse needs of infrastructure. I also heard that it is vital to place this sector on a long-term footing, and to provide assurance in the future to key infrastructure projects.

We must also put the consumer first – and make it as easy as possible for all of us to know exactly where to turn for quality information and advice.

Therefore, over the coming weeks and months, we will work with the main stakeholders in the field to put this into practice. My aim is to make a further statement in the spring on the way forward, including what kind of structure could coordinate the various linguistic infrastructure elements effectively.

I am also very grateful for all the work that has been undertaken by the staff of the Welsh Language Commissioner (and, before that, the Welsh Language Board), in the field, which has laid a firm foundation for us to move forward.