chapter  14
The sociolinguistic context of Welsh
ByRobert Owen Jones, Colin H. Williams
Pages 62

It is a minor miracle that Welsh has survived to this day. The 2001 census fi gure records that 20.8 per cent of the population can speak Welsh, giving a total of 582,000 self-reported speakers. Many thousands more can understand Welsh. Beyond Wales, especially within the rest of the UK there are a large number of Welsh speakers who, despite their current residence, contribute to the vitality of Welsh in so many ways. Undergirding these speakers, far more formal attention, resources, investment and government backing is being expended on promoting and spreading the language than ever before. The Wales Assembly Government policy is to create a bilingual society and to secure a fl ourishing future for the use of Welsh in as many spheres of social and public life as is possible. The challenge is great and there are limited grounds for hope that current efforts to revitalize Welsh will yet succeed.