Myfyrdod adeg Gŵyl Ddewi

Heddiw o bob diwrnod, dylem ddathlu mor wyrthiol ydyw ein bod ni yng Nghymru, er i ni gael ein concro yn y drydedd ganrif ar ddeg, a byw yng nghysgod un o brif ieithoedd cyffredin y byd, eto’n medru siarad ein hiaith ein hun. Wedi ein hir hanes dan reolaeth estron, mae’n rhyfeddol odiaeth fod y genedl Gymreig yn medru sefyll mewn ystafell ynghanol eu cymdogion Seisnig a chael sgwrs hollol breifat.

Dengys y cyfrifiad diweddaraf, serch hynny, na allwn fod yn hunanfodlon. Mae dirywiad unwaith yn rhagor yn dynesu’n llechwraidd. Rŷm o hyd yn uwch na lefel 1991 o 581,000 ac mae hyn yn galonogol, ond bod y cyfartaledd o siaradwyr Cymreig wedi gostwng 2% o 2001 i 562,000 (19%).

Felly, mae’r broblem y tynnwyd ein sylw ati gyda’r fath bendantrwydd gan araith “Tynged yr Iaith” Saunders Lewis, ysywaeth, wedi dychwelyd – sut gallwn ni sicrhau nad â’r iaith hynafol hon i ebargofiant yn ystod ein gwyliadwriaeth ni? Nid oes neb eisiau bod yn perthyn i genhedlaeth y bydd yn rhaid iddi gyfaddef ei bod wedi gadael i’r iaith wywo ar y winwydden.

‘Fum i erioed yn byw yng Nghymru, ac mae fy ngwybodaeth o’r Gymraeg yn deillio o ymgomio â’m teulu ac o fynd i Ysgol Gymraeg Llundain tan i mi gyrraedd chwe mlwydd oed. Fe wn i, o brofiad, ei bod yn dra anodd i ddal ati i gadw’r Gymraeg pan nad ydych yn ei defnyddio’n wastadol.

Dyna paham y mae’n rhaid i ni drawsnewid yn gyfangwbl ein holl ymagweddiad at y Gymraeg.

Nid yw gorfodi astudio’r Gymraeg hyd lefel TGAU yn ddim ond gwasanaeth gwefus, os na fydd yn datblygu i fod yn iaith yr iard chwarae, y dafarn a’r siop. Lletchwithdod cymdeithasol pur yw rhan o’r broblem.

O gwrteisi fe siaredir Saesneg gan nifer sylweddol o Gymry mewn lleoedd cyhoeddus i osgoi cau allan pobl na allant, o bosib, fedru’r Gymraeg. Fodd bynnag, er mwyn ei gwneud yn iaith fwy naturiol a phoblogaidd rhaid newid hyn. Gan fod y Cymry’n drwyadl yn y Saesneg mae’n rhy hawdd o lawer ei mabwysiadu fel ein ‘lingua franca’ ninnau hefyd, yn enwedig pan fydd cynifer o bobl Seisnig yn symud i mewn i’r wlad i gymryd mantais o brisoedd rhatach tai.

Nid wyf, o gwbl, yn gwarafun i Saeson, nad ŷnt yn medru’r Gymraeg, ddod i Gymru, ond mae’n rhaid iddynt gyfaddasu â’r Cymry ac nid i’r gwrthwyneb. Unwaith y bydd crynswth beirniadol o bobl na fedrant y Gymraeg, a hynny mewn tref fechan, fe all yn gyflym symud i gymuned i siarad Saesneg yn hytrach na’r Gymraeg.

Byddai dysgu’r Gymraeg dipyn yn llai o ymdrech i ddysgwyr pe gwnaed hi’n iaith dderbyniol yn gyhoeddus. Fe glywais, hyd yn oed, am Saeson a ymdrechodd ddysgu’r Gymraeg, yn achwyn na chânt ddigon o ymarfer, oherwydd, weithian, onid yw pobl yn sicr eich bod yn siarad Cymraeg, fe dybiant nad ydych yn gwneud hynny. Mae angen trawsnewid y cyhoedd dan y camargraff hwnnw yn gadarn yn ôl i’r Gymraeg.

Fy hoff ddyfais ddiweddar i, yw’r bathodynnau ‘Cymraeg’ y gall gweithwyr yn rhywle yng Nghymru eu harddangos i brofi eu bod yn medru’r Gymraeg. Mae hyn yn torri allan y dyfalu lletchwith.

Mae’r newid hwn ymhlŷg â bod yn amyneddgar gyda phobl nad ŷnt yn rhugl. Y duedd naturiol, wrth gwrs, i achub rhywun sy’n cloffi gyda’u Cymraeg yw symud i’r Saesneg yn gyflym, ond mae hyn, mewn gwirionedd yn wrthgynhyrchiol. Sut gallant wella eu Cymraeg fyth ?

Problem arall ynglŷn â chadw’r Gymraeg y tu allan i’r ysgol yw bod rhai rhieni’n ymddangos yn ddrwgdybus ynglŷn â’i gwerth, yn enwedig os nad ydynt yn ei siarad eu hunain. Rhan o hyn yw’r syniad hen-ffasiwn y bydd eu Saesneg yn dioddef os bydd plant yn ceisio ymdopi â iaith arall, ond nid yw hynny wedi ei seilio ar brofiad. Mae’r Saesneg mor gryf ym Mhrydain fel y tuedda plant ddatblygu’n ddwyieithwyr rhugl – gyda’r fantais o ddwy iaith, dwy gelfyddyd a dwy farchnad gwaith. Mae plant Ewrop yn siarad llawer iaith heb unrhyw drafferth. ‘Does yna’r un rheswm na ddylai hyn fod yn berthnasol i Brydain.

Mae’r Bwrdd Addysg Gymraeg yn awr wedi ei ddisodli i wneud lle i Gomisiynydd Newydd y Senedd. ‘Dyw’r Senedd ddim yn nodedig am ei hochr greadigol ac ‘rwyf i’n ofni fod ei chynllun strategol am yr iaith, sydd i’w gyhoeddi eleni, mor ddiffygiol a diddychymyg â’i pholisiau eraill. Felly ‘rwy’n gobeithio y bydd y Senedd yn ymroi i feddwl yn weithredol ac ar lefel leol. Maent yn tueddu canolbwyntio ar yr agwedd swyddogol – cael biliau nwy a ffurflenni Treth Cyngor yn y Gymraeg, ac wrth gwrs, pethau tebyg.

‘Rwyf yn gobeithio y byddant yn meddwl y tu allan i fiwrocratiaeth gan eu bod wedi ymgymryd â’r cyfrioldeb o feithrin ein hiaith. Gobeithiaf am ragor o syniadau fel y bathodynnau Cymreig oren. Mae’n syniad mor syml, ond mae’n ymwneud â hybu gweithredol, bywyd bob dydd a synnwyr cymunedol. Popeth yn wir, y dylai polisi iaith fod.

Os yw mynd o amgylch yn siarad Cymraeg yn gyhoeddus yn peri i rai pobl fod yn anghysurus, boed hi felly. Ni ddylem adael i iaith canrifoedd ddarfod i arbed nifer bach o ysbeidiau anodd. Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant Hapus – Happy St David’s Day.

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Who is the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier?

The former French foreign minister has shown signs that he will play hardball in negotiations.

The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator today set an October 2018 deadline for the terms of Britain’s divorce from the European Union to be agreed. Michel Barnier gave his first press conference since being appointed to head up what will be tough talks between the EU and UK.

Speaking in Brussels, he warned that UK-EU relations had entered “uncharted waters”. He used the conference to effectively shorten the time period for negotiations under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the legal process to take Britain out of the EU. The article sets out a two year period for a country to leave the bloc.

But Barnier, 65, warned that the period of actual negotiations would be shorter than two years and there would be less than 18 months to agree Brexit.  If the terms were set in October 2018, there would be five months for the European Parliament, European Council and UK Parliament to approve the deal before a March 2019 Brexit.

But who is the urbane Frenchman who was handpicked by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to steer the talks?

A centre-right career politician, Barnier is a member of the pan-EU European People’s Party, like Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A committed European and architect of closer eurozone banking integration, Barnier rose to prominence after being elected aged just 27 to the French National Assembly.  He is notorious in Brussels for his repeated references to the 1992 Winter Olympics he organised in Albertville with triple Olympic ski champion Jean-Claude Killy.

He first joined the French cabinet in 1993 as minister of the environment. In 1995, Jacques Chirac made him Secretary of State for European Affairs, teeing up a long and close relationship with Brussels.

Barnier has twice served as France’s European Commissioner, under the administrations of Romano Prodi and José Manuel BarrosoMost recently he was serving as an unpaid special advisor on European Defence Policy to Juncker until the former prime minister of Luxembourg made him Brexit boss.“I wanted an experienced politician for this difficult job,” Juncker said at the time of Barnier, who has supported moves towards an EU army.

 

Barnier and the Brits

Barnier’s appointment was controversial. Under Barroso, he was Internal Market commissioner. Responsible for financial services legislation at the height of the crisis, he clashed with the City of London.

During this period he was memorably described as a man who, in a hall of mirrors, would stop and check his reflection in every one.

Although his battles with London’s bankers were often exaggerated, the choice of Barnier was described as an “act of war” by some British journalists and was greeted with undisguised glee by Brussels europhiles.

Barnier moved to calm those fears today. At the press conference, he said, “I was 20 years old, a very long time ago, when I voted for the first time and it was in the French referendum on the accession of the UK to the EU.

“That time I campaigned for a yes vote. And I still think today that I made right choice.”

But Barnier, seen by some as aloof and arrogant, also showed a mischievous side.  It was reported during Theresa May’s first visit to Brussels as prime minister that he was demanding that all the Brexit talks be conducted in French.

While Barnier does speak English, he is far more comfortable talking in his native French. But the story, since denied, was seen as a snub to the notoriously monolingual Brits.

The long lens photo of a British Brexit strategy note that warned the EU team was “very French” may also have been on his mind as he took the podium in Brussels today.

Barnier asked, “In French or in English?” to laughter from the press.

He switched between English and French in his opening remarks but only answered questions in French, using translation to ensure he understood the questions.

Since his appointment Barnier has posted a series of tweets which could be seen as poking fun at Brexit. On a tour of Croatia to discuss the negotiations, he posed outside Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships asking, “Guess where we are today?”

 

 

He also tweeted a picture of himself drinking prosecco after Boris Johnson sparked ridicule by telling an Italian economics minister his country would have to offer the UK tariff-free trade to sell the drink in Britain.

But Barnier can also be tough. He forced through laws to regulate every financial sector, 40 pieces of legislation in four years, when he was internal market commissioner, in the face of sustained opposition from industry and some governments.

He warned today, "Being a member of the EU comes with rights and benefits. Third countries [the UK] can never have the same rights and benefits since they are not subject to same obligations.”

On the possibility of Britain curbing free movement of EU citizens and keeping access to the single market, he was unequivocal.

“The single market and four freedoms are indivisible. Cherry-picking is not an option,” he said.

He stressed that his priority in the Brexit negotiations would be the interests of the remaining 27 member states of the European Union, not Britain.

“Unity is the strength of the EU and President Juncker and I are determined to preserve the unity and interest of the EU-27 in the Brexit negotiations.”

In a thinly veiled swipe at the British, again greeted with laughter in the press room, he told reporters, “It is much better to show solidarity than stand alone. I repeat, it is much better to show solidarity than stand alone”.

Referring to the iconic British poster that urged Brits to "Keep Calm and Carry On” during World War Two, he today told reporters, “We are ready. Keep calm and negotiate.”

But Barnier’s calm in the face of the unprecedented challenge to the EU posed by Brexit masks a cold determination to defend the European project at any cost.

James Crisp is the news editor at EurActiv, an online EU news service.