Welsh Lexicography and Terminology

Submitting Institution

Bangor University

Unit of Assessment

Modern Languages and Linguistics

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education
Language, Communication and Culture: Linguistics

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Summary of the impact

The case study focuses on work undertaken at Bangor University (BU) in two closely related fields, Welsh lexicography and terminology. It demonstrates how a major lexicographical publication — The Welsh Academy English-Welsh Dictionary: Geiriadur yr Academi (1995) — has far-reaching influence and impact on the daily use and vocabulary of standard literary Welsh. It displays how lexicography sustains the vitality of a `lesser-used' language and enables a standard written form to be widely used in educational, professional and public domains. Building on the lexicographical feat represented by the dictionary, BU also leads the development of the allied area of Welsh terminology. Furthermore, in both these areas BU has facilitated the delivery of its research to non- academic users through the creation of open-access on-line databases.

Underpinning research

(2.1) The Welsh Academy English-Welsh Dictionary (3.1) is the most comprehensive English-Welsh dictionary ever compiled. It was the culmination of a major initiative in the field of Welsh lexicography instigated by the Welsh Academy and financially supported by the Arts Council of Wales, the British Academy, and the Welsh Office (of pre-devolved Wales). Its publication in 1995 was hailed as `a milestone for the Welsh language' (Independent on Sunday), and as a monumental contribution `awesome in extent, scholarship [and] editorial competence' (Reference Reviews).

The Dictionary's format is based on the English-French half of Harrap's Shorter French and English Dictionary, but its 87,000 English headwords — and around 2 million words of text — represent a much more ambitious undertaking. Its entries contain a remarkable wealth of illustrative quotations, exhaustive examples of idiomatic usage and guidance throughout regarding literary and colloquial registers. The Dictionary's lexicon encompasses all areas of language use in the modern world, including specialist and technical terms.

(2.2) Canolfan Bedwyr was established at BU in 1996 in memory of Bedwyr Lewis Jones (Professor of Welsh at BU between 1974 and 1992). Its aims are to enhance the professional use of Welsh within the university's administration and to offer professional and research services to external public and private bodies who wish to enhance the use of Welsh in the workplace (see REF3a). The Centre's Language Technologies Unit (LTU) is Wales's only research unit on Welsh terminology and language technologies, and it continues to build upon the foundations laid by the Welsh Academy Dictionary. In 2009 LTU was commissioned by the Welsh Language Board to undertake a major digitisation project relating to the Dictionary. In February 2012, an on-line open- access version of the Welsh Academy Dictionary was launched (3.2) and LTU continues to be responsible for its technical upkeep and development.

(2.3) Over the years LTU has made seminal contributions in the area of Welsh terminology, especially to meet to the needs of bilingual secondary and higher education in Wales. What is the Welsh for memory-stick, tablet, and fibre optic broadband? Indeed, what is the Welsh for impact case study and Research Excellence Framework? It is the responsibility of BU's LTU to answer such questions. Its Guidelines for the Standardization of Terminology for the Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh Language Board (2007) have been adopted as the official standard for all areas of terminology in Wales.

In 2009 LTU received an European Regional Development/Welsh Government grant to aid the translation industry in Wales, leading to the creation of Porth Termau (a National Terminology Portal for Wales). This is an electronic compendium of twenty terminology dictionaries relating to different fields (eight of which have been completed since 2007). It has also been commissioned by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol to undertake the 'Terms for Higher Education' project with the objective of developing a series of electronic subject dictionaries within the priority fields of the Welsh Government's national strategy for enhancing Welsh-medium tuition in the higher education sector.

(2.4) Y Termiadur: Welsh Terminology (3.3) is an updated and much enlarged version of Y Termiadur Ysgol (1998), originally commissioned by the Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales. It contains 46,000 entries covering subjects taught at schools in Wales up to Advanced-Level standard. New terms for inclusion were researched and extracted from relevant examination papers, syllabuses and text books. The prescriptive nature of the standardization process necessitated further research into Welsh candidate terms and newly published and revised ISO terminology standards.

In March 2012, a new on-line open-access version of Y Termiadur Addysg was launched (3.4). With 58,000+ terms, it includes a new enlarged version of the text published in 2006 and continues to grow. It also has additional features to aid searching for standardized terms to be used in Welsh medium exams and assessments and in resources of all kinds for teachers and students.

References to the research

(3.1) B. Griffiths and D.G. Jones, The Welsh Academy English-Welsh Dictionary: Geiriadur yr Academi (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1995), pp. lxxxii + 1710. (Third impression with minor emendations, 1997; fourth impression with minor emendations and appendix 2000; fifth impression with minor emendations and revised appendix 2003; sixth impression 2006.) [included in BU's UoA 49 submissions in RAEs 1996 and 2001]

(3.2) http://techiaith.bangor.ac.uk/GeiriadurAcademi/ (the on-line open-access electronic version — launched in 2012 — of B. Griffiths and D.G. Jones The Welsh Academy English-Welsh Dictionary: Geiriadur yr Academi).

(3.3) D. Prys et al., Y Termiadur: Standardized Terminology (Caerdydd: Awdurdod Cwricwlwm, Cymwysterau ac Asesu Cymru, 2006), pp.934. [included in BU's UoA 58 submission in RAE 2008]

(3.4) http://www.termiaduraddysg.org/ (the on-line open-access electronic version of D. Prys, et al. Y Termiadur: Standardized Terminology. Launched in 2012, it supersedes the book version and is continually being updated and enhanced.

Details of the impact

Context As a literary written language, Welsh has a rich and unbroken tradition which extends back to the middle ages. However, in the socio-political circumstances of the Victorian era the domains of Welsh remained largely confined to those of religion and literature and English was enthroned in Wales as the prestige language of education, commerce, public administration and law. It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that the need to enhance the use of Welsh beyond its Victorian domains became, first of all, a matter of political agitation, and finally, by the close of the century, a matter of political consensus in Wales (5.3).

At the level of corpus planning, the enhanced use of Welsh in a growing number of domains (e.g., education, law, broadcasting and technology) has necessitated a continual process of linguistic elaboration and terminological modernisation (5.3). BU's research in the areas of lexicography and terminology is at the heart of this process (5.3). Since 2008 BU has also transformed the delivery of such research to non-academic users through the creation of open-access on-line databases and through the use of other technological platforms (4.5).

(4.1) Throughout the assessment period of 2008-13, The Welsh Academy English-Welsh Dictionary (3.1) has been a corner-stone for the diversification of the use of Welsh in contemporary Wales. It fulfils the need for a major work of reference that has the ability to mediate between English, the dominant world language, and the growing use of Welsh outside the traditional domains of religion and literature. The Dictionary provides a standardized lexicon extending from public administration to nuclear physics. For bilingual public administrators, educators, broadcasters, editors and translators in Wales, it is the most essential of tools to support the use of Welsh in dynamic modern contexts (5.3). In offices and homes in Wales, and on library shelves throughout the English-speaking world, the Welsh Academy English-Welsh Dictionary remains the standard work on modern Welsh lexicon. In 2008, the Dictionary was described by a former editor of Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (the historical Dictionary of the Welsh Language) as `undoubtedly the single greatest influence on present-day Welsh vocabulary' (5.5).

(4.3) As a tool that enhances the general use of Welsh, the fundamental importance of the Dictionary was recognized by the Welsh Language Board, which obtained a licence from the editors to publish a digital version. The Board, a statutory public body, was created through the Welsh Language Act of 1993 and its primary legal obligation was to promote and facilitate the use of Welsh in Wales on the basis of the equal validity of both Welsh and English. In the Board's Annual Review for 2008-9 it was stated that the `publication of a digital version of this dictionary will be a very important step in facilitating the use of Welsh, especially in the bilingual Workplace' (5.6). The fact that this highly prestigious and nationally important digitisation project was entrusted in 2009 to LTU provides clear evidence of the unit's pre-eminence in the area of language technology.

In February 2012 the open-access digital version of the Dictionary (3.2) was launched. The event was marked by news reports on S4C and BBC Radio Cymru (28 February 2012), an article in the weekly journal Golwg (23 February 2012), further coverage in Y Cymro (2 March 2012), and also an extended item as part of S4C's Pethe series (2 April 2012) (5.11). At the time of the launch, the Welsh Language Board's Chief-Executive stated that the Dictionary is `an essential companion to anyone who wishes to use Welsh' and that the digital version moved `the Welsh language into a completely different modern age' (5.10). This statement accurately reflects the significance of the impact of this work: between 13 March 2012 and 31 July 2013 the online version of the Dictionary received 1,756,000 searches, with an average of between 4,000 and 6,000 recorded during every working day.

(4.4) As a result of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure of 2011 the Welsh Language Board was abolished on 1 April 2012 and its duties divided between the new Welsh Language Commissioner and the Welsh Government. The licence to produce a digital version of the Dictionary was transferred to the Commissioner who has assumed full responsibility for maintaining and developing the on-line Dictionary. The importance of this lexicographical on-line resource is further evidenced by A living language a language for living (2012), the Welsh Government's Welsh Language Strategy for 2012-17 which aims to see `an increase in the number of people who both speak and use the language'. The strategy states (p.49) that `the Welsh Government will ensure that the language can benefit from a standardized online Welsh language dictionary, based on the significant investment it has already committed to this project over time' (5.8).

(4.5) The Termiadur: Standardized Terminology (3.3) was commissioned by the Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales which became part of the Welsh Government's new Department for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills in 2006. The volume provides standardized Welsh terminology for the provision of Welsh-medium education in Wales and provides standardized forms that are to be used in all curriculum materials and external examinations in Wales (5.1). Supported by the Welsh Government, the greatly enhanced on-line electronic version (3.4) now covers terms from the primary level right through to further education and it continues to grow. At the time of its launch in 2012, the Welsh Government's Minister for Education and Skills hailed the new electronic version as `a great boost to Welsh-medium education and to the language in general' (5.7).

The Termiadur Addysg is an essential tool for the provision of Welsh-medium Education (5.1). In the Welsh Government's Welsh-medium Education Strategy of 2010 the need `to ensure that up-to-date, standardized Welsh-language terminology is available to support all aspects of Welsh-medium provision' (p.18) was identified as a strategic objective (5.9). The Termiadur in its various print and electronic guises meets that objective. Its standardized terminology is officially sanctioned and used by the Welsh Joint Education Committee — Wales's national examination board — in all its educational and examination activity (5.1). Throughout the REF assessment period, the Termiadur, therefore, has enhanced the ability of teachers to deliver Welsh-medium education with terminological exactitude and competence and has enriched the educational experiences of all pupils in Wales who study their subjects through the medium of Welsh (that number stood at 100,884 in January 2013: 63,192 primary / 37,692 secondary) (5.1).

The Termiadur also places Welsh in the technological world of young people. As specified in A living language a language for living (see above and 5.8) it is `important . . . to facilitate the use of Welsh in all aspects of public life, such as in the field of technology' (p.49). Since 2012 a free app version of the Termiadur has been available from the App Store, Google Play and the Amazon App Store for mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, that run on iOS (iPad/iPhone) or Android. Y Termiadur Addysg is also available within the `ap Geiriaduron app that also includes a general language dictionary. Since its launch in March 2012, there have been 197,394 searches of the on-line Termiadur deriving from 33,883 visits. The Termiadur has also been downloaded to 13,486 mobile devices, a statistic comparable with at least 1,500,000 downloads in an UK-English context.

(4.7) Throughout the assessment period of 2008-13, BU's research in the areas of lexicography and terminology has been of fundamental importance to all professional translators/editors in Wales. Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru (The Association of Welsh Translators and Interpreters) is the national professional association of Welsh/English translators and interpreters. It has, at various accreditation levels, 337 members who work in both public and private sectors, including SME's such as Cwmni Cymen in Caernarfon, Prysg in Cardiff, Trosol in Castellnewydd Emlyn/Cardiff, and Trywydd in Carmarthen (5.4). All professional translators and editors use the Dictionary on a very regular if not daily basis and it is listed among the bibliographical items recommended for use by translators by the Association (5.4). For example, since its establishment in 1999 the National Assembly for Wales adheres to a rigorous bilingual policy. Its Translation and Reporting Service employs 41 translators/editors and they are responsible for the translation of text, simultaneous translation and for producing and editing the Assembly's Record of Proceedings (5.2). During the 2012/13 financial year they translated 3,353,500 words of text, recorded and edited 699 hours of Plenary and Committee deliberations and provided a simultaneous translation service during 2,180 hours of Assembly business and other formal Assembly events (5.2). Their work, which is given public visibility through National Assembly for Wales's bilingual website, enhances the use of Welsh in all of the policy areas of devolved power in Wales: agriculture, economic development, education, health, heritage, housing, industry, local government, social services, transport, tourism, and the Welsh language. Throughout the working day they will continually consult the Academy Dictionary. Their ability since 2012 to conduct electronic searches of the Dictionary has greatly impacted upon their working practices (5.2). In the words of the Head of the Assembly's Translation and Reporting Service, `it is difficult to comprehend how the professional translator in Wales could function without this dictionary' (5.2).

Sources to corroborate the impact

(5.1) Supporting letter from CEO of the Welsh Joint Education Committee.

(5.2) Supporting letter from the Head of the National Assembly for Wales's Translation and Reporting Service.

(5.3) Supporting letter from Welsh Government Minister for Heritage and Welsh Language (2008- 11).

(5.4) http://www.cyfieithwyrcymru.org.uk/llyfryddiaeth_sylfaenol-25.aspx

(5.5) The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales (Cardiff, 2008), p. 214. (available on request)

(5.6) http://www.cynulliadcymru.org/en/bus-home/bus-third-assembly/bus-guide-docs-pub/bus-business-documents/bus-business-documents-doc-laid/gen-ld7684-e.pdf?langoption=3&ttl=GEN-LD7684%20-%20Welsh%20Language%20Board%20Annual%20Review%202008-09

(5.7) http://www.bangor.ac.uk/news/full.php.en?nid=7506&tnid=7506

(5.8) http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dcells/publications/122902wls201217en.pdf

(5.9) http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dcells/publications/100420welshmediumstrategyen.pdf

(5.10) http://www.bbc.co.uk/newyddion/17182395

(5.11) http://s4c.co.uk/pethe/y-bruce-da-a-droog-or-archif/