Welsh-speaking wizards at it again
The Welsh Language Board tirelessly promotes the use of Welsh, in many ingenious ways. Expectant mothers undergoing ultrasound scans are given neat little folders to store the pictures of their unborn babies, stating the advantages of teaching them Welsh – once they’re born, presumably.
But there are people in Wales who feel that the WLB’s use of evidence verges on the unscrupulous. The latest to contact me on the subject is a Straight Statistics reader irritated by the use of a survey carried out in November 2008 by Beaufort Research on behalf of the WLB.
The results of this survey provided lots of new evidence, such as the claim, quoted on page 28 of the WLB’s Annual Report for 2009-10, that “76 per cent of people in Wales agree that bilingual marketing materials and adverts are important”.
If we look at the survey itself, we discover that what people were actually asked was: “If an organisation wants to offer customers bilingual services, how important do you think it is that an organisation should ensure that its marketing materials and advertisements are bilingual?” That’s a leading question if ever I saw one. How can you offer bilingual services without bilingual ads and marketing materials?
A more straightforward question might have been: “How important do you think it is for a company operating in Wales to ensure that its marketing materials and advertisements are bilingual?” That might, however, have elicited less than 76 per cent support.
Most of the questions in the survey ask respondents to agree or disagree with strongly positive statements, such as “Welsh is an asset to Wales” or “Welsh is important to Welsh culture”. Unsurprisingly, they do.
My correspondent says that when this survey first appeared he lodged a complaint that it consisted of “a number of ambivalent and misleading questions which led to positive answers favouring the Welsh language”. Beaufort contacted him, he says, admitting that they themselves had put these concerns to the WLB but that the WLB had wanted to continue using a format used over a period of years.
“This is a state-funded organisation but it seems to be mostly dedicated to supplying misleading information” says my informant. The WLB’s grant-in-aid from the Welsh Assembly Government in the 2009-10 financial year was £13.6 million.
When the poll does ask a straight question, it doesn't get the answer the WLB would wish for. In answer to: "How much do you agree with - Welsh will be stronger in ten years' time that it is today?" I'm sorry to say only 41 per cent agreed, and only 13 per cent agreed strongly.
But they clearly hadn't heard about the ultrasound initiative (pictured below).