Catrin Williams

Thesis title:

Ideologies and Urban Welsh


I use linguistic ethnography (Rampton et al. 2004) to explore ideologies around Welsh in the urban South-East of Wales. Changes in the circumstances of Welsh, including new rights, an increase in speakers, and the expansion of the language into new domains, entail complex ideological implications. My project seeks to combine an understanding of the material circumstances of the language and residual and emergent ideologies which are meaningful for speakers.

Welsh medium education and the view of Welsh as a useful skill in the workplace mean that the language has new forms of value, which are often related to economic value. At the same time, traditional stereotypes and values based on authenticity, often associated with romantic imaginings of the past and with rural areas, remain relevant. These opposing value sources exist simultaneously for speakers in different contexts. This means that a multi-site linguistic ethnography, considering speakers’ situated interactions and considering different levels of context in detail (Blommaert et al. 2011), can shed new light on what speaking Welsh means for people in the urban South-East. This will contribute a deeper, qualitative understanding of the situation of Welsh in speakers’ lived experience and address my research questions about:

1. How speakers navigate conflicting value systems and centres and the implications of this in terms of access to both cultural and economic capital
1.a. Tensions between conflicting framings
1.b. What identities and stereotypes are relevant for urban Welsh speakers
2. How ideologies around Welsh interact with the material circumstances of its speakers
2.a. How far and in what ways Welsh seems emancipatory (and to what extent and in what ways it reproduces existing socio-economic hierarchies)
3. How the ideologies influencing Welsh speakers are different and similar to those discussed in relation to other minority languages, and where they are different, why?

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First supervisor:

Ben Rampton


7 – Linguistics, Media & Culture