European Journal of Language Policy

The Welsh language in Patagonia

Evolution and adaptation

European Journal of Language Policy (2018), 10, (2), 277–295.

Abstract

It was in order to be able to continue speaking Welsh, unhindered by the British state, that Welsh colonists migrated to Patagonia, in the south of Argentina. But the Welsh community soon came under the control of the expanding Argentine state. Respite for the Welsh-speaking community from interference by a powerful, centralised administration proved to be short-lived: what the Welsh had sought to escape from by leaving Britain, simply reappeared in the guise of the Argentine Republic. Relations between the Welsh colony and the government soured, especially from the 1880s until the turn of the century. Second generation Welsh colonists were, of necessity, increasingly bilingual, as Spanish became the official language of Argentina’s fast-growing, multi-ethnic population. The Welsh colony’s schools and local institutions allowed linguistic resistance for a time, as did the written press which had grown up with the settlement.

The Welsh, however, found themselves in a very difficult position, instrumentalised as – ironically – an “Anglo-Saxon” constituent of Argentina’s Eurocentric immigration policy, and opposed as a troublesome linguistic minority to be assimilated in the same manner as the native Indian tribes. Trapped in this way, the colony’s own language policy further evolved. English was reappropriated by inhabitants of the Welsh colony who preferred to re-migrate, often to dominions of the British Empire: notably, Canada and Australia.

From the inter-war period on, there was therefore a real danger that Welsh might die out in Patagonia, reduced as it was to domestic use. But a revival was prompted by the rise of Welsh nationalism, especially by devolution in the late 1990s and within the favourable context created by the European Union support for linguistic diversity, by the Council of Europe’s Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and by the vigorous language policy of the Welsh National Assembly. This revival has been actively supported by the British Council’s “Welsh Language Project”.

C’est pour pouvoir continuer à parler gallois, sans les entraves de l’Etat britannique, que les colons gallois ont émigré en Patagonie, au sud de l’Argentine. Mais la communauté galloise est rapidement passée sous le contrôle de l’État argentin en expansion. Le répit de la communauté galloise contre l’ingérence d’une administration puissante et centralisée se révéla de courte durée. Ce que les Gallois avaient cherché à échapper en quittant la Grande-Bretagne, réapparut simplement sous les traits de la République argentine. Les relations entre la colonie galloise et le gouvernement se sont aigries, en particulier à partir des années 1880 jusqu’au début du 20e siècle. Les colons gallois de deuxième génération étaient, par nécessité, de plus en plus bilingues, car l’espagnol est devenu la langue officielle de la population multiethnique à croissance rapide de l’Argentine. Les écoles et les institutions locales de la colonie galloise ont permis une résistance linguistique pendant un certain temps, tout comme la presse écrite qui avait grandi avec la colonie.

Les Gallois, cependant, se trouvaient dans une position très difficile, instrumentalisée comme – ironiquement – un constituant «anglo-saxon» de la politique d’immigration eurocentrique de l’Argentine, et opposés comme une minorité linguistique gênante à assimiler de la même manière que les tribus indiennes indigènes. Pris au piège de cette façon, la politique linguistique de la colonie a évolué. L’anglais a été réapproprié par les habitants de la colonie galloise qui ont préféré se ré-émigrer, souvent vers des dominions de l’Empire britannique: notamment, vers le Canada et l’Australie.

Dès l’entre-deux-guerres, il y avait donc un réel danger que la langue galloise périsse en Patagonie, réduite à l’usage domestique. Mais la renaissance du nationalisme gallois, notamment par la déconcentration à la fin des années 1990 et dans le contexte favorable créé par le soutien de l’Union européenne à la diversité linguistique, par la Charte des langues régionales ou minoritaires du Conseil de l’Europe et par la vigueur de la langue politique de l’Assemblée nationale galloise. Ce renouveau a été activement soutenu par le “Welsh Language Project” du British Council.

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Alberdi, Juan Bautista. (1853 [1915]) Bases: y puntos de partida para la organización política de la República Argentina. Buenos Aires: La Cultura Argentina. Bases: y puntos de partida para la organización política de la República Argentina Google Scholar

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Balderas, J. and Greenwood, M. (2010) ‘From Europe to the Americas: A Comparative Panel-data Analysis of Migration to Argentina, Brazil, and the United States, 1870–1910’, Journal of Population Economics 23.4 (October): 1301–18. ‘From Europe to the Americas: A Comparative Panel-data Analysis of Migration to Argentina, Brazil, and the United States, 1870–1910’ Journal of Population Economics 23.4 1301 18 Google Scholar

Brebbia, C.A. (2008) Patagonia, A Forgotten Land: from Magellan to Perón (revised edition). Southampton/Boston: WIT Press. Patagonia, A Forgotten Land: from Magellan to Perón Google Scholar

Brooks, W.A. (2012) Welsh Print Culture in Y Wladfa: The Role of Ethnic Newspapers in Welsh Patagonia, 1868–1933. Doctoral thesis. Cardiff: Cardiff University. Welsh Print Culture in Y Wladfa: The Role of Ethnic Newspapers in Welsh Patagonia, 1868–1933 Google Scholar

Chatwin, B. (1977) In Patagonia. London: Jonathan Cape. In Patagonia Google Scholar

Della Paolera, G. and A.M. Taylor. (2003) A New Economic History of Argentina. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. A New Economic History of Argentina Google Scholar

Fox, A. and Woolf, D. (eds) (2002) The Spoken Word: Oral Culture in Britain 1500–1850. Manchester: Manchester University Press. The Spoken Word: Oral Culture in Britain 1500–1850 Google Scholar

HC Deb, 10 March 1846, vol. 84 c846–7. 84 c846 7 Google Scholar

Jones, B. (2003) ‘“Raising the Wind”: Emigrating from Wales to the USA in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries’, Cardiff Centre for Welsh American Studies. Cardiff: Cardiff University Press. ‘“Raising the Wind”: Emigrating from Wales to the USA in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries’ Cardiff Centre for Welsh American Studies Google Scholar

Lindfield, P.N. and Margrave, C. (eds) (2015) Rule Britannia? Britain and Britishness 1707–1901. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Rule Britannia? Britain and Britishness 1707–1901 Google Scholar

Lublin, Geraldine. (2017) ‘Y Wladfa: ¿una colonia sin colonialismo?’, Identidaes 4, Año 6, (January): 43–57. ‘Y Wladfa: ¿una colonia sin colonialismo?’ Identidaes 43 57 Google Scholar

Morgan, K.O. (1981) Rebirth of a Nation: Wales 1880–1980. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rebirth of a Nation: Wales 1880–1980 Google Scholar

Moss, C. (2008) Patagonia: A Cultural History. Oxford: Signal Books. Patagonia: A Cultural History Google Scholar

Owen, G.D. (1977) Crisis in Chubut: A Chapter in the History of the Welsh Colony in Patagonia. Swansea: Christopher Davies. Crisis in Chubut: A Chapter in the History of the Welsh Colony in Patagonia Google Scholar

Parker, M. (2007) Neighbours from Hell: English Attitudes to the Welsh. Y Lolfa: Talybont. Neighbours from Hell: English Attitudes to the Welsh Google Scholar

Tanner, M. (2004) The Last of the Celts. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. The Last of the Celts Google Scholar

Tudur, D. (2006) The Life, Work and Thought of Michael Daniel Jones (1822–1898). Phd thesis. Bangor: University of Wales. The Life, Work and Thought of Michael Daniel Jones (1822–1898) Google Scholar

Villavicencio, S. (2012) Sarmiento et la nation civique. Citoyenneté et philosophies de la nation (Argentine XIXe siècle). Paris: L’Harmattan. Sarmiento et la nation civique. Citoyenneté et philosophies de la nation (Argentine XIXe siècle) Google Scholar

Wilkinson, S. (2015) Mimosa. The Life and Times of the Ship that Sailed to Patagonia (revised edition). Y Lolfa: Talybont. Mimosa. The Life and Times of the Ship that Sailed to Patagonia Google Scholar

Williams, Glyn. (1991) The Welsh in Patagonia: the State and the Ethnic Community. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. The Welsh in Patagonia: the State and the Ethnic Community Google Scholar

Williams, R.B. (2000) Gwladfa Patagonia. La colonia galesa de Patagonia. The Welsh Colony in Patagonia 1865–2000. Pwllheli: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Gwladfa Patagonia. La colonia galesa de Patagonia. The Welsh Colony in Patagonia 1865–2000 Google Scholar

Alberdi, Juan Bautista. (1853 [1915]) Bases: y puntos de partida para la organización política de la República Argentina. Buenos Aires: La Cultura Argentina. Bases: y puntos de partida para la organización política de la República Argentina Google Scholar

Arnold, M. (1867) On the Study of Celtic Literature. London: Smith and Elder. On the Study of Celtic Literature Google Scholar

Balderas, J. and Greenwood, M. (2010) ‘From Europe to the Americas: A Comparative Panel-data Analysis of Migration to Argentina, Brazil, and the United States, 1870–1910’, Journal of Population Economics 23.4 (October): 1301–18. ‘From Europe to the Americas: A Comparative Panel-data Analysis of Migration to Argentina, Brazil, and the United States, 1870–1910’ Journal of Population Economics 23.4 1301 18 Google Scholar

Brebbia, C.A. (2008) Patagonia, A Forgotten Land: from Magellan to Perón (revised edition). Southampton/Boston: WIT Press. Patagonia, A Forgotten Land: from Magellan to Perón Google Scholar

Brooks, W.A. (2012) Welsh Print Culture in Y Wladfa: The Role of Ethnic Newspapers in Welsh Patagonia, 1868–1933. Doctoral thesis. Cardiff: Cardiff University. Welsh Print Culture in Y Wladfa: The Role of Ethnic Newspapers in Welsh Patagonia, 1868–1933 Google Scholar

Chatwin, B. (1977) In Patagonia. London: Jonathan Cape. In Patagonia Google Scholar

Della Paolera, G. and A.M. Taylor. (2003) A New Economic History of Argentina. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. A New Economic History of Argentina Google Scholar

Fox, A. and Woolf, D. (eds) (2002) The Spoken Word: Oral Culture in Britain 1500–1850. Manchester: Manchester University Press. The Spoken Word: Oral Culture in Britain 1500–1850 Google Scholar

HC Deb, 10 March 1846, vol. 84 c846–7. 84 c846 7 Google Scholar

Jones, B. (2003) ‘“Raising the Wind”: Emigrating from Wales to the USA in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries’, Cardiff Centre for Welsh American Studies. Cardiff: Cardiff University Press. ‘“Raising the Wind”: Emigrating from Wales to the USA in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries’ Cardiff Centre for Welsh American Studies Google Scholar

Lindfield, P.N. and Margrave, C. (eds) (2015) Rule Britannia? Britain and Britishness 1707–1901. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Rule Britannia? Britain and Britishness 1707–1901 Google Scholar

Lublin, Geraldine. (2017) ‘Y Wladfa: ¿una colonia sin colonialismo?’, Identidaes 4, Año 6, (January): 43–57. ‘Y Wladfa: ¿una colonia sin colonialismo?’ Identidaes 43 57 Google Scholar

Morgan, K.O. (1981) Rebirth of a Nation: Wales 1880–1980. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rebirth of a Nation: Wales 1880–1980 Google Scholar

Moss, C. (2008) Patagonia: A Cultural History. Oxford: Signal Books. Patagonia: A Cultural History Google Scholar

Owen, G.D. (1977) Crisis in Chubut: A Chapter in the History of the Welsh Colony in Patagonia. Swansea: Christopher Davies. Crisis in Chubut: A Chapter in the History of the Welsh Colony in Patagonia Google Scholar

Parker, M. (2007) Neighbours from Hell: English Attitudes to the Welsh. Y Lolfa: Talybont. Neighbours from Hell: English Attitudes to the Welsh Google Scholar

Tanner, M. (2004) The Last of the Celts. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. The Last of the Celts Google Scholar

Tudur, D. (2006) The Life, Work and Thought of Michael Daniel Jones (1822–1898). Phd thesis. Bangor: University of Wales. The Life, Work and Thought of Michael Daniel Jones (1822–1898) Google Scholar

Villavicencio, S. (2012) Sarmiento et la nation civique. Citoyenneté et philosophies de la nation (Argentine XIXe siècle). Paris: L’Harmattan. Sarmiento et la nation civique. Citoyenneté et philosophies de la nation (Argentine XIXe siècle) Google Scholar

Wilkinson, S. (2015) Mimosa. The Life and Times of the Ship that Sailed to Patagonia (revised edition). Y Lolfa: Talybont. Mimosa. The Life and Times of the Ship that Sailed to Patagonia Google Scholar

Williams, Glyn. (1991) The Welsh in Patagonia: the State and the Ethnic Community. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. The Welsh in Patagonia: the State and the Ethnic Community Google Scholar

Williams, R.B. (2000) Gwladfa Patagonia. La colonia galesa de Patagonia. The Welsh Colony in Patagonia 1865–2000. Pwllheli: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Gwladfa Patagonia. La colonia galesa de Patagonia. The Welsh Colony in Patagonia 1865–2000 Google Scholar

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Harris, Trevor

Harris, Trevor