Four sixth-form students talk about their social lives and their cultural identity.
Robat Glyn Owen; Cadi Iolen Hughes; Manon Steffan; Jason Morgan (b.1983/1984; sixth-form students)
C900/13532 © BBC

Anita: Do you spend a l, a lot of time looking at computers and screens a lot?

Robat: Not as much as people go on about. I tend to go out, I go out a lot more that people, than people say that, uh, all kids in front of telly, watching telly, com, playing on computers. Not that much. Uhm, I’m lucky if I watch an hour of telly a night.

Anita: Same?

Cadi: Yes, I don’t particularly, uhm, watch lots of telly. Uh, as Robat was saying, people just seem to go on and on about the fact that we come straight home from school and watch telly. But I don’t think that’s the case for many of us, though. We just, sort of get on with our homework, watch about half an hour here, half an hour there. And then you can go out or carry on with their homework.

Anita: If you could change something about your social lives, what, what would you do? What would you introduce into it?

Manon: Uhm, I, I

Anita: What do you not like, you know?

Manon: I think I’d like, sort of, more facilities in the area for people, cause some people enjoy going to the, sort of, youth clubs and things like this, but I think playing pool for, sort of, six hours is a bit boring, so I’d like something a bit more

Anita: What do you do?

Manon: exciting. I’m into politics, myself, that’s what I do in my spare time.

Anita: Doing what?

Manon: I, I’m work with the Labour, I’m a youth officer for the Labour Party in this area, so that’s what I enjoy, but I would like something else that would, is, sort of, exclusively for young people apart from the youth club that’s open every Friday night. I don’t think it’s enough.

Anita: Hmm.

Manon: And, uh, I don’t, I don’t think there’s any, if people are complaining about children watching the telly and being on the internet a lot, well, it’s not our fault that there’s no facilities in the area.

Anita: Do you agree?

Jason: Yes, there’s not a lot of things here. There’s a youth club and there’s a sports centre, but they, they don’t have anything else here at all. But after I go home from school I, I watch hours of telly before I do anything. I’m terrible like that.

Anita: Do your parents tell you off?

Jason: Uhm, if I do my homework they don’t mind, but they’re, they’re not keen on the idea, but as long as I do my homework, they’re not bothered, but they’re

Anita: Before television – the old days that you, you’re so bored of hearing about – uh, you would’ve been out and you would’ve been getting fit. I mean, uh, people are worried about youngsters, uh, not being fit; you’re not getting enough exercise. Do you think you’re getting enough exercise with sitting in fronting the television? You look a slim, young man, but are you fit?

Jason: No, I’m not, uh, I only do, ever do gym at school; I’m not very good. I’ve, I used to go to tennis lessons, things like that, but eventually I just got bored of it, cause I had to go all the way to Caernarfon every, about twice every week, to do it. And I started getting fed up of that. I pre, I prefer doing things in the house.

Anita: Are you a couch potato?

Jason: Yes.

Anita: Are you?

Robat: No, definitely not.

Anita: No, and you’re the one who watches for an hour, of course.

Robat: I th, I th, I don’t, because of, uh, I don’t know. I go, I go out a lot. Most of my time is out; I get complaints from my parents that I’m out too much. Cause there’s, there’s not a lot to do, but I do go out; we just sit around. What I’d like to see, I’d like to see is cafés, where we can go. You can just sit around. You, uh, you see them on telly: people going to cafés, like, young people going to cafés. There’s nothing like that around here, nothing. And if we did have them, we’d go out. If the things were here, we would do them, but they’re not here for us to do.

Anita: Where do you meet then and what do you do?

Robat: Just sit on park benches; play around; we, we go to the swings – anything, anything not to get bored.

Anita: Just to get together with your friends, yeah? Do you have people into your homes?

Robat: Yeah.

Anita: Do, do your parents say, you know, “Bring, bring them in; don’t hang around on the street.”

Robat: I know my, my mother doesn’t mind: if I want to come in, I can come in. I’ve got my own, uhm, sofa in the room. If I want to sit down I can bring my friends in, watch a video, watch telly, whatever. My mum, my mum doesn’t mind.

Anita: Are you interested in, in the culture of our country? Are, are, do you belong to the urdd1? Do you go to an Eisteddfod2 and ever and compete? Are you, are you competitors? Can you tell me a bit about that?

Cadi: I don’t compete, but I have great, uhm, interest in this local history and our culture, cause I think it’s important that we as young people realise, uhm, do you know, our, our background. I mean where we’ve come from, how we are and things and I think that’s very important. And I do, uhm, I am a member of the urdd, but I don’t compete, because I can’t sing and things, but, uhm, yeah, I enjoy it.

Anita: Do you compete?

Robat: No. I go to the Eisteddfod all the time. I love going to the Eisteddfod, I watch all, I love watching other people compete, but I don’t think I could do it myself. I, uhm, haven’t got the voice; I, uh, can’t carry my voice at all. But, huh, I’m v, very interested in the culture of Wales: I love it. If there’s a Welsh rugby game on, my mother takes me down to the pub and with, there’s loads of kids there. We all just f, I [laughter] and with the, I just sit around watching the telly and w, with everyone in the c, round where I live goes there and, uh, it’s just a great atmosphere. And everyone is just shouting for our country and it’s brilliant, it’s just, it’s just a great thing to do.

Anita: And you said you played rugby yourself, of course?

Robat: Oh, uhm, not that much. I mean, I like playing it, but I don’t play it very well.

Anita: Where else can you get together and feel part of a community, then, at your age?

Manon: Uhm, I think it’s important to have a sense of self and to know fr, who you are and your own culture, but I don’t think there are many chances to, sort of, express yourself in, in a, sort of, cultural way. I think the Eisteddfod, the, the National Eisteddfod, when lots of young Welsh people get together and they camp round in tents and it, it, and that’s the, the most, the, the most Welsh I’ve ever felt.

Cadi: Hmm.

Manon: Because everybody is so pr, very, very proud of being Welsh. And I must say that I do feel much more Welsh than I do British.

Cadi & Robat: Hmm. Yeah.

Jason: I agree totally.

Robat: I think that people in Wales believe themselves to be Welsh more than other people do. You go to Scotland, you don’t see as much people shouting for their country as you do in Wales. Everyone in Wales is behind their own country.

Jason: Yeah, uh, I agree with Manon, uhm, in the Eisteddfod this year, as you say, the feeling of being Welsh in that one small field was immense. Everybody talking the language; it made you feel so proud and, yeah, as Robat said, I went to see the Rugby World Cup and it was so amazing; watching everybody in their red shirts made, making an effort to shout for their country. It was just so, uhm, it was overwhelming, really. It’s just the sense of, sort of, belonging to something in a country. I think we should, uhm, be proud of our nation for that.

Robat: I went to watch a, uhm, game in the Millennium Stadium of Wales and it was brilliant. I’ve never felt more Welsh in my life. It was just so brilliant: people were singing; everyone knew the words to their nationalist, uh, uh, national anthem; people were crying singing the national anthem, cause they were so proud of themselves. I think it was brilliant.


1 urdd is Welsh for a guild or society of people sharing the same interest.

2 An Eisteddfod is a formal assembly of Welsh bards and minstrels that originated in the traditions of court bards of medieval times. The modern National Eisteddfod, revived in the 19th century and held each summer alternately in a site in North or South Wales, has been broadened to include awards for music, prose, drama, and art.

Commentary for Bethesda

A North Welsh accent is a wonderful combination of the speech patterns shared with other Welsh speakers and features that are a natural consequence of the close proximity of Cheshire, the Wirral and Merseyside.

North Wales accent

Listen carefully to the vowel sound used by these speakers in the words half, party, apart, started, park, are and can’t, for example. This and the very distinctive <r> sound used by these students where <r> appears at the start of a syllable is typical of speech in this part of Wales and indeed on Merseyside. Speakers here frequently use a tapped ‘r’ – a sound produced when the tip of the tongue makes very brief and rapid contact with the roof of the mouth, making a <d>-like sound. Listen closely to the way they pronounce the <r> sound in the following words: Robat, area, boring, terrible, very, every, prefer, around, room, bring, background, rugby, everyone, round, great, brilliant, express, cultural, British, agree, proud, red and crying.

Welsh intonation

Despite these and other links with speech on Merseyside, we can also clearly identify these speakers as Welsh. Above all, the rhythm and intonation of their speech is characteristic of many speakers in Wales. We often describe this intonation as ‘sing-song’ or refer to it as a lilt, an auditory effect that is the result of the slightly different stress patterns of Welsh English and of the characteristic way in which many Welsh speakers lengthen the duration of a consonant in the middle of a word or between vowels. This is a very subtle feature, but listen to the way these speakers pronounce the consonants in the following words: telly, tennis, cafés, sofa, video and effort.