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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 10-Aug-12


Friday 10-Aug-12

Oooh, hello!

The Welsh language is not the most spoken language in the world, nor is it the least. The Victorian English tried to suppress it and nearly succeeded, yet it is now making a strong come-back. Culture is embedded in language and culture has an evolutionary power in self-preservation. One of the ways culture sustains itself is through institutionalization. Unlike when I was young, Welsh is now taught in schools. There is Welsh TV and Radio and a Welsh government who insist on bilingualism in many areas.

Another institution that has been going for many years is the National Eisteddfod. Built around a festival of Welsh song and poetry, it runs for a week and attracts many retailers and organizations in an expanding canvas city. The defining aspect of the Eisteddfod is that speaking Welsh is the norm and Welsh-speakers come from far and wide to drink in the culture (as well as whatever beverages are on offer).

I was there last week with my Welsh-speaking wife last week and noticed an interesting phenomenon. The most common phrase I heard was 'Oooh, hello!' A critical aspect of the Eisteddfod is that it is a major networking event. Many people don't attend a single poetry recital yet come every year to meet friends, reconnect with long-lost acquaintances, and maybe make some new friends too.

Many conferences are like this. An agenda of worthy speeches and a town of hopeful stallholders are both sideshows. The real attraction is other, like-minded people. Eisteddfodau and conferences are just mechanisms for meeting, for making and sustaining connections with others. Through such devices cultures and societies grow and thrive. No wonder that oppressors seek to ban gatherings. Yet those with common interests will always find one another, and the most successful of these will build entire nations.

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