Fate of the Language Exhibition

Bangor University will hold a “Fate of the Language Exhibition” to mark the 50th anniversary since the broadcast of ‘Tynged yr Iaith’ by Saunders Lewis.

The exhibition, which will be held in the Council Chamber in the Main Arts Building from February 13 2012, has been organised by the Archives and Special Collections at Bangor University.

Bangor University Archivist Einion Thomas said: “To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Saunders Lewis’ ‘Tynged yr Iaith’ broadcast we have prepared an exhibition that deals with the effects of the lecture on the history of Wales.

“The exhibition will deal with the reaction of the students at Bangor, who were calling for a wider use of the language at the University which led to serious unrest at the institution between 1976 and 1984.  It will also show documents related to Trefor and Eileen Beasley’s battle for Welsh tax documents from the council of Llanelli.”

Eileen Beasley and her husband Trefor refused to pay local authority council tax in 1953 as the request for payment from Llanelli Council was only available in English, something that was common practice in Wales at the time. In 1960, having lost everything to the bailiffs, the couple were finally given a bilingual bill.

Saunders Lewis (1893 - 1985) was a Welsh poet, dramatist, historian, literary critic, and political activist. He was a prominent Welsh nationalist and a founder of the Welsh National Party, later known as Plaid Cymru. Lewis is usually acknowledged to have been among the most prominent figures of twentieth-century Welsh-language literature and in 1970 he was a Nobel nominee for literature.

In 1962 Lewis gave a radio speech entitled Tynged yr iaith (The Fate of the Language) in which he predicted the extinction of the Welsh language unless action was taken.

Reaction to the lecture brought about a major change in the politics of Wales. It is considered to be the catalyst for the formation of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, and the start of a period of direct-action agitation to enhance the status of the Welsh language.

Publication date: 13 February 2012