Welsh language

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Welsh (Cymraeg or y Gymraeg, pronounced [kəmˈrɑːɨɡ, ə ɡəmˈrɑːɨɡ]) is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England and in the Welsh immigrant colony in the Chubut Valley in Patagonia.[4]

The Welsh Language Board[5] indicated in 2004 that 611,000 people (21.7% of the population of Wales in households or communal establishments) were able to speak Welsh. This figure marks a 0.9 percentage point increase when compared with a figure of 20.8% from the 2001 census, and an increase of approximately 35,000 in absolute numbers within Wales. Welsh is therefore a growing language within Wales.[5] Of those 611,000 Welsh speakers, 62% claim to speak Welsh daily. This figure rises to 88% amongst those who consider themselves fluent in Welsh.[5]

A greeting in Welsh is one of 55 languages included on the Voyager Golden Record chosen to be representative of Earth in NASA's Voyager program launched in 1977.[6] The greetings are unique to each language, with the Welsh greeting being Iechyd da i chwi yn awr ac yn oesoedd which translates into English as "Good health to you now and forever".[7]

Officially, the English and Welsh languages have equal status in Wales. In December 2010, the Welsh Assembly unanimously approved legislation to make Welsh an official language in Wales, and additional measures to promote the language. The legislation will come into force in 2011.

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