Dr. Jeremy Evas and Cerith Rhys Jones are working to promote the Welsh language
on the Cardiff University campus in Wales.
But perhaps most inherent to the Welsh culture is the language. It’s one of the oldest languages
in Europe and much of Wales’ cultural activity is associated with it. Welsh was
spoken by a majority until the end of the 19th century. Since then, there has been
a consistent decline and Welsh is now spoken by just 19 percent of the population.
One of the more fervent of those 19 percent is Cerith Rhys Jones. A student at Cardiff University (Prifysgol Caerdydd), one of Wales’ oldest and largest educational institutions, he is doing everything he can to keep the language alive. Cerith grew up speaking Welsh and a strong part of his identity and sense of self are rooted in the language. In addition to his double major of Welsh and Politics, Cerith served as the 2013/14 Welsh Students’ Officer at Cardiff University Students’ Union, advocating for the estimated 10,000 Welsh-domiciled students and estimated 3,000 Welsh speakers on campus.
is my first language, so it’s very close to my heart,” Cerith says. “But in order
for other Welsh speakers to feel confident in using the language, it must be normalized.
It has long been seen as a language for the home, or the classroom, instead of also
as a workplace or a social language.”
One way to strengthen the language of this modern Celtic nation, Cerith says, is
to bridge the gap between language and technology. Welsh-speaking students have
historically used English when reading, writing, and using IT, because Welsh options
have been inefficient or unavailable.
That is changing with the help of the
Microsoft Local Language Program, which provides the Language Interface
Pack (LIP) for Windows, SharePoint, and Office, in Welsh. This enables students
to use the popular software in Welsh as well as Microsoft Translator. Using these
tools, Cerith is showing students how to integrate Welsh into their studies. And
experts say the language is making a comeback.
As Welsh Students Officer, it is Cerith’s job to advocate for nearly 3,000 Welsh
speakers on campus.
program has made a substantial contribution in enabling students to use the language
where they normally wouldn’t,” says Dr. Jeremy Evas, a lecturer in the School of
Welsh at Cardiff who worked with Microsoft over the last decade to bring the program
to Wales. “People are now using Welsh technology at home, in school, and at work.”
The Local Language Program (LLP) is part of
Microsoft YouthSpark, the company’s global initiative to empower young people
to create a better future through education, employment and entrepreneurship. By
making software available in 108 languages globally, LLP is helping strengthen the
presence of minority languages in the digital domain. By showing students that they
can create Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, as well
as send email and use spellcheck in Welsh, Cerith has been successful in boosting
Welsh speakers’ use of the language on campus.
“To have a company as big and influential as Microsoft making tech available in
my language really makes a difference,” Cerith says. “I’m really, really impressed
by the standard of Welsh language used in the Microsoft interfaces. It’s easy to
read, and it’s changing the mindset very much for the positive.”
Cerith uses BingTranslator to translate documents from English to Welsh.
grew up in the old mining village of Cwmgors, which sits on the border between industrial
South Wales and rural West Wales. It’s a quiet area with lots of mountains and fields,
and a place where he was surrounded by people who speak Welsh. Each time he visits,
he is reminded of the beauty of the language and the importance of his work to maintain
He attended a Welsh-language primary school but his mandatory language classes ended
at 16. Cerith elected to continue studying through the medium of Welsh and then
major in Welsh at Cardiff. Since then, he has become a champion both at University,
where he creates networks for Welsh speakers, and in his political activism lobbying
to strengthen the rights of Welsh speakers and pushing for a more Wales-focused
He’s gone so far as to have his devotion inked on his leg. He has a tattoo that
reads “Rhof iti fy mywyd” or “I give you my life,” a line from one of his favorite
songs “O Gymru” an anthem to Wales.
Cerith is spending the summer between his home in Cwmgors and his grandparents’
home in Bridgend before returning to Cardiff in the fall to continue his studies.
After graduation, he hopes to find a job that combines his love of Welsh and his
passion for politics. He plans to continue his journey pushing future generations
to embrace Welsh in the modern context necessary to keep it alive.
My belief is that if one has something to contribute to one’s nation, then one is
obliged to make that contribution,” Cerith says.