Welsh is only spoken in about one fifth of homes and workplaces across Wales. Particularly in the more populated south east of the country most children learn English as their first language and until relatively recently very few learned much Welsh at all. A few decades ago it looked like Welsh might end up following Cornish, Manx, and Irish and Scottish Gaelic into obscurity. In 2011 that has completely changed. Welsh is one of the fastest growing languages in Europe. It is now compulsory in schools.
One of the first things that strikes visitors to Wales is the language translation on the road signs. Each and every publicly funded road sign is written in both English and Welsh. Public transport announcements are always given in both languages and all documents sent out by local councils and the Welsh Assembly government are also bilingual.
Aside from providing a boom for legal and technical translation companies, the compulsory language translation has made a difference to Wales. All of a sudden the once declining language was given an equal official footing to English. The resurgence became a point of pride for Welsh people, even those who are not fluent speakers.
Translation prices had to be paid and of course there are extra printing and signage costs to be met, but there is little doubt that widespread general and technical translation has made a huge difference and contributed to the preservation of the Welsh language. It has done far more than make the lives of Welsh speakers easier. It has inspired a whole country.
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