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Saint Nick seemed to form part of the remaining quarter of the inhabitants who don’t speak Welsh. Some parents, whose children speak Welsh as their first language, complained to the local council because this Father Christmas was unable to speak to their children in their mother tongue.

Their argument is that their children should be able to speak to the jolly old man in Welsh because they are not as confident or comfortable speaking in English.

In recent years the Welsh assembly has plunged money into Welsh language resources in an effort to promote its usage. A nation fiercely proud of its heritage and culture is also keen to ensure that Cymraeg does not fade away. Not just that though, the aim is to give this minority language equal importance in all areas possible. According to the Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998, the Welsh and English languages should be treated equally in the public sector. However, although many shops employ bilingual signage, Welsh still rarely appears on product packaging or instructions. Does this show that the Welsh language still has a way to go before it can be considered equal? Can it ever be on an equal footing in a country where so many do not speak it?

So can Father Christmas speak other languages? He is a man of many names in different languages world-wide so we can only assume that he is able to speak to the children of the world in their native tongues! Perhaps this has so far only extended to some of the minority languages though. In a world where around 6900 languages are spoken, is it any surprise that Santa struggles to speak them all? In his modern attire, Kris Kringle is over 144 years old and counting. Perhaps he has been learning languages as he goes along but whilst he is clearly a hyperpolyglot already, with so many places to visit and languages to speak it is perhaps just that he got confused as to where this grotto, from which he was stumbling after too many sherries and mince pies, was located and immediately reverted to English. At least this experience may encourage Santa to brush up on his Welsh for future visits!
What are your thoughts; is it necessary to be able to speak Welsh if you are working with the public in Wales?

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Ian Chapman – Director of Holiday Experience –

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