Susanna Reid, show Welsh people and our language some respect

Good Morning Britain presenters had a right old laugh this morning after it was announced that park authorities would refer to the Brecon Beacons exclusively by its native name Bannau Brycheiniog.

The decision comes following a desire to project a more eco-friendly image. While the park’s former logo was that of a smoldering beacon, the new logo will celebrate the park’s heritage and landscape.

I, for one, welcome this change. In fact, I think it should’ve happened a long time ago. It’s a shame GMB’s presenters clearly don’t feel the same.

Ed Balls started out by giving the name the respect it deserves, saying, ‘I think Bannau Brycheiniog is going to catch on’. However, Susanna Reid said she originally believed the announcement to be ‘a joke’.

‘It’s just a name,’ she continued, seemingly invalidating a nation’s identity in one fell swoop. Given that the Welsh translation of Susanna is ‘Siwan’, I wonder how she’d respond if we refused to use her chosen name. It’s just a name, after all. 

‘Bannau’ is the Welsh plural for ‘peak’, while ‘Brycheiniog’ refers to the old kingdom of King Brychan. Translated, it means ‘The Peaks of Brychan’s Kingdom’.

The decision comes off the back of the 2021 announcement that Eryri National Park authorities would refer to our country’s tallest peak exclusively by its native name Yr Wyddfa.

‘Well it will always be Snowdon to me!’ the masses inevitably cried.

On Have I Got News For You, supposedly the wittiest people in the UK compared the decision to the deadnaming of transgender people, relying on the same old boring schtick about the Welsh and their language. 

As a Welsh speaker, I’m sick and tired of English people (and let’s be honest, it’s always the English) treating my culture and language with disrespect. The UK is home to languages as varied as Polish and Urdu to Romanian and Swahili, but we all know they wouldn’t have the guts to ridicule those.

I’ve stayed in countless hostels across the world and when the question of ‘Wales ‒ that’s in England, right?’ inevitably pops up, I take it as a teaching moment to explain how we’re two different countries with two unique cultures. 

I explain how the reason we have a Welsh-language TV channel is because the former head of Plaid Cymru, Gwynfor Evans, threatened to starve himself to death if Thatcher’s Tory Government revoked its promise to provide one, as portrayed in the excellent new film Y Sŵn on BBC iPlayer. 

Without exception, people are always shocked, and even more so when I say Welsh school children were physically punished for speaking their own language in schools across Wales ‒ so don’t tell me it’s ‘just a name’, Susanna. 

Following the announcement about Bannau Brycheiniog, inevitably our neighbours will shroud their bigotry beneath a veil of concern: However will the tourists find the park with those silly indecipherable signs?

But when was the last time you struggled to locate a landmark when you were on holiday because it wasn’t in English? Never? Exactly. 

‘Think of the expense!’ they might retort. ‘Haven’t we got bigger things to worry about?’ We’re reportedly splashing out £100m on a coronation – surely some signs won’t break the bank. 

‘Can’t they at least show us how it’s pronounced?’ those bemoaning the change will titter, because if they’re going to grant us this favour, won’t we at least hold their hand because it’s a little bit embarrassing to say it wrong? 

Ban-eye Bruck-ein-iog. There you go. Nothing a quick Google can’t solve. Perhaps if British children learned about Welsh in school, its existence would come as less of an affront.

Scan today’s news and you’ll see publications announcing the ‘renaming’ of the Brecon Beacons, as if we haven’t been speaking Welsh all along. 

I shouldn’t be surprised: this is, after all, the same media who deemed it acceptable to ask a language expert on UNESCO International Mother Tongue Day in 2020 whether Welsh was the world’s most ‘pointless’ language.

It’s a real shame that Good Morning Britain presenter Sean Fletcher was not given the opportunity to contribute, himself a Welsh speaker who would doubtless have provided a voice of reason amid this pack of hyenas.

The Welsh language has a long and tumultuous history that is worthy of respect and the London-centric media is failing us. It’s time to shout about it from the mountaintops.

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