A number of Welsh figures will reject the claim of Plaid Cymru founder Saunders Lewis that self-government would be harmful to Wales, in a discussion at the National Eisteddfod today.

Saunders Lewis' 1962 'Tynged yr Iaith' (Fate of the Language) lecture, which was broadcast on radio, was seen as one of the key moments in the history of Welsh politics, as he warned that unless action was taken the Welsh language would be dead within a generation.

Lewis also argued that "if there was any form of self-government for Wales before the Welsh language is adopted and used as an official language in all the administration of the local and national authorities in the Welsh-speaking regions of our country... the demise of the language would be sooner than its demise under the English Government." 

The historic claim will be discussed at a public meeting, 'Annibyn-iaith? The Welsh language in an independent Wales', at the festival which is taking place this year in Tregaron.

READ MORE: Tynged yr Iaith at 60: the radio lecture which sparked Welsh language activism

The event is organised by Melin Drafod - a think tank which says it is shaping a progressive agenda for an independent Wales. 

Professor Emyr Lewis, YesCymru’s Chair Elfed Williams, Menna Machreth, Llinos Anwyl from Cymdeithas yr Iaith, and Alun Davies MS will speak at the event.  

According to Llinos Anwyl from Cymdeithas yr Iaith, independence for Wales is an opportunity for the language: “Neoliberalism clashes with efforts to ensure the vitality of minority languages. Independence is the opportunity to prioritise communities, not capitalism.

"The existence of the Welsh language necessarily intertwines with other social issues such as the rights of trans people, the right to live in our communities, the right to protest - the list is endless. The best opportunity to effectively revive the language in the long term is to structure a society based on direct democracy, environmentalism, feminism and protection for minority languages.”

Professor Emyr Lewis is expected to say: “There are currently gaps in terms of the constitutional status of the Welsh language, and there are steps that need to be taken formally to protect the position of the Welsh language within the constitutional arrangements of Wales. If Saunders Lewis' statement is true, then it is already too late to revive the Welsh language, and I refuse to accept that.”

READ MORE: The battle to maintain Welsh as Ynys Môn's majority language

Elfed Williams, Chair of YesCymru argues: “The threat to any minority language stems from state power and economic factors. Wales’ population is only 5% of the UK total, and only 20% of our population speak Welsh, so our voice is less powerful alongside a dominant language such as English.

"This is particularly true with the Westminster Government undermining Welsh democracy and flexing its unionist muscles. In the long term this can affect how people perceive use of the Welsh language in the home when they feel that it is less socially and economically useful outside the home, so the trend of not transferring the Welsh language to the next generation will continue unless we become an independent nation.”

Talat Chaudhri, Chair of Melin Drafod, said: “Conversations like this are essential. Wales is going to become an independent country. That is the inevitable result of the British imperial project unravelling. What we as citizens need to do, and as a matter of urgency, is to discuss how to establish a successful independent state: one that is progressive, and strengthens and sustains what is important to communities the length and breadth of the country.”

The discussion is due to take place at 4pm at the Cymdeithasau 1 tent.

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