A Warm Welsh Welcome? How an Understanding of Hospitality Might Inform Good Bilingual Practice in a Welsh/English Context

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Rosa Hunt


This paper describes the tensions between Welsh and English speakers in two intercultural contexts where I work. It explores these intercultural tensions using Derrida’s notions of hospitality, and asks whether it is possible to talk about extending hospitality to a language, rather than a person. I start by describing in a little more detail my own experience of the intercultural contexts of both church and college. I then go on to very briefly outline a theoretical framework for hospitality in terms of host, guest and threshold. Next, I describe a small study I carried out to evaluate a new Welsh-language pastoral group at college. I consider whether this might be understood as an effective act of hospitality towards the Welsh language. I end by considering how this study might inform good bilingual practice in both college and church, as well as perhaps other social contexts. The paper concludes that after the initial act of welcoming Welsh over the threshold by simple bilingual gestures, the host community needs to build an ‘understanding space’ where Welsh can flourish. This then in turn generates a second threshold where power relations are reversed.

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