Wales

'Unexpected Welsh' - where in the world have you heard it?

Street signs in Welsh and English Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The latest figures show a rise in people able to speak Welsh

Twitter users are sharing their experiences of hearing Welsh spoken in far-flung corners of the world when they least expect it.

Using the hashtag #UnexpectedWelsh, Welsh speakers have told of hearing the language from Germany to South Africa.

People have been taken by surprise naked in a sauna in Finland and in a hot air balloon over Jaipur, India.

There was also joy at finding out the first Welsh words spoken in space by a Canadian astronaut in 1998.

Others found the similarities between Celtic languages proved to be an advantage when trying to order in a bakery in France.

An exchange in Welsh can also prove a great source of joy to supporters of other minority languages.

The popular Twitter discussion was started by Aran Jones, from Flintshire, who co-created the "Say Something in Welsh" online language course.

"I think the most interesting thing about it is that it is not confined to Welsh speakers. It is a joy to be able to make that tiniest connection," he said.

He pointed out that almost everyone in Wales uses some Welsh words, even if they do not speak the language fluently, and it is easy to lose sight of that connection.

An adult learner of Welsh himself, he is convinced the language, far from dividing people, brings them together.

The Office of National Statistics estimates some 875,000 people can speak Welsh in Wales, up from 726,600 in 2008.

Among those sharing their experiences are people who were brought up speaking Welsh or have a strong connection with the language, as well as others who have emigrated, or those whose parents spoke Welsh.

For them, hearing the language can be emotional and bring back memories.

For others, there was amazement at hearing the language in the United States, where people reported meeting Welsh language learners in places including Denver, Colorado and Tuscon, Arizona.

"In America, in particular, it's a heritage thing," Mr Jones said, with learners keen to connect with the roots of their ancestors.

Back in Wales, efforts to get more people to speak Welsh in everyday life are being stepped up.

The Welsh Government wants to get one million people speaking Welsh by 2050.

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