Make friends not war, urges cam­paigner over Vine lan­guage row

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS -

A LAN­GUAGE cam­paigner has struck up an un­likely rap­port with Jeremy Vine af­ter he was forced to apol­o­gise over an “in­sult­ing” tweet against Welsh.

The BBC Ra­dio 2 host has been heav­ily crit­i­cised on so­cial me­dia af­ter he ap­peared to sug­gest Welsh was on par with a for­eign lan­guage in the UK.

Re­spond­ing to a tweet sug­gest­ing that peo­ple speak­ing Welsh in Wales was the equiv­a­lent to peo­ple speak­ing French in France, Vine asked: “Is France in the UK?”

The tweet has since been deleted.

Re­ply­ing to a Twit­ter user who sug­gested he apol­o­gised or ex­plained the tweet, Vine said it had been “mis­con­strued” and that he “didn’t mean to of­fend”.

The row came af­ter a clip ran on Jeremy Vine’s high­lights show over the week­end of a heated de­bate on his pro­gramme about the Welsh lan­guage from ear­lier in the year.

Mr Vine had in­ter­viewed a man from Pon­typridd who claimed Welsh speak­ers “think they’re bet­ter than any­body else”.

Af­ter the clip was broad­cast for the sec­ond time, Vine found him­self at the cen­tre of a row, with some ac­cus­ing the pre­sen­ter of big­otry, which he de­nied.

How­ever, in a bid to douse the flames, he later pub­lished an over­view writ­ten by Ifan Morgan Jones some years ago, which ex­plained why turn­ing to Welsh when an English­man walks into a pub is an “ur­ban myth with un­pleas­ant im­pli­ca­tions”. The post was fol­lowed days later by a pub­lished ar­ti­cle head­lined “Why we shouldn’t shout at Jeremy Vine” by Aran Jones, a Welsh lan­guage cam­paigner and CEO of SaySome­thing­inWelsh. The pair have now struck up an un­likely friend­ship af­ter chat­ting di­rectly on Twit­ter about learn­ing Welsh. Mr Jones, from Carmel in Gwynedd, sug­gested peo­ple should help oth­ers un­der­stand what be­ing a Welsh speaker is like so that they have “fewer at­tacks to fend off”. In his re­port about Vine, he said: “Now, here’s the thing: At this point (na­ture of the beast and all that) he was still get­ting plenty of flak on Twit­ter – in­clud­ing, in­evitably, some pretty nasty stuff. “So on the one hand, he’s giv­ing some gen­uine thought to learn­ing Welsh – on the other, he’s read­ing Welsh peo­ple hurl­ing abuse at him. “I un­der­stand the peo­ple who lose their tem­pers – I re­ally do – there isn’t a single ‘Welsh is bad’ trope we haven’t heard hun­dreds of times be­fore. But we re­ally, re­ally need to know when to turn the love on.” He added that we need to “make friends with peo­ple (when it’s pos­si­ble)” to help them un­der­stand “what be­ing a Welsh speaker is like”. “And here’s a thought – maybe if we spend more time spread­ing the love and mak­ing friends, invit­ing peo­ple in to our unique and fas­ci­nat­ing lan­guage and cul­ture – maybe we’ll have fewer at­tacks to fend off,” he added.

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