Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Language Shift in Builth Hundred

At the start of the 20th Century there were still a fair numbers of folk who spoke only Welsh in the old cantref of Buallt. In the Builth Rural District Council area these monoglots totalled around 500, over 10% of the population. Yet although Welsh speakers were still a majority in the council area, some 41% spoke only English.

It's as well to remember that language shift is a process. In the over 65 age group 82% of the population of Builth RDC were able to speak Welsh, compared with 43% aged between 3 and 14. Clearly Welsh was far from dead in the district, but in reality the war had already been lost and the future belonged to English. The map shows the percentage of monoglots in each parish for example in Tirabad (Llandulas) Welsh monglots totalled 69% whereas English monoglots totalled 2% - the bilingual population was therefore 29%. In parishes west of the blue line Welsh speakers were in the majority, in Llanwrthwl parish figures are distorted by the large numbers of migrant workers engaged on building the Elan Valley dams.

There's an interesting chapter on the dialect of the area starting at page 97 of this book.

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