Language as a determinant of Welsh identity



The study was designed, using the ‚matched-guise' technique, to determine how different groups of Welshmen perceive members of their own national group who use various linguistic codes. Three matched groups of adult Welsh Ss were used: Bilinguals, those who were learning Welsh and those who could not speak Welsh and were not learning it either. These Ss were asked to evaluate on 22 scales the personalities of various Welsh speakers they heard reading the same passage of prose on tape. Essentially, the stimulus tape consisted of two male bilinguals reading the passage once each in Welsh, in English with a Welsh accent and in English with an RP accent. It was found, despite the fact that the groups differed in their language skills and self-perceived Welshness, that Ss as a whole upgraded the bilingual speakers on most traits. Indeed, the RP speakers were evaluated most favourably on only one trait - self-confidence. It was suggested that language to a large extent serves as a symbol of Welsh identity, and the results were discussed in relation to how other ethnic groups appear to view their own linguistic codes.