A sign appeared in the Bangor Sports Direct store telling staff members that “it has come to our attention that some members of staff are speaking to each other in languages other than English whilst carrying out their duty”.
It continued: “We would like to take this opportunity to remind staff that they must speak in English at all times while they are at work, in order that they can be understood by all members of staff; this includes any personal conversations that may be taking place during work time.”
Many Welsh people, including Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and BBC broadcaster Huw Edwards slammed the move...
Some also compared the notice to the infamous “Welsh Not”, a tactic said to be used in some schools in the 19th century to discourage children from speaking their mother tongue. A stick or crude necklace was passed around among children caught speaking Welsh, with the final wearer of the day facing corporal punishment.
In a statement, Sports Direct insisted the notice “was not intended to restrict the use of the Welsh language”.
It said: “Sports Direct issued a notice to all stores in the UK on our language policy. It was intended to ensure that all staff, who attended briefings on health and safety and other important issues, fully understood the content of these communications. English is the most common language used by our multi lingual staff, and therefore, the most likely to be understood by all.
“This notice was not intended to restrict the use of the Welsh language, or prohibit staff from communicating in their local language, outside these briefings or with customers. We will be reviewing the wording of the notice to ensure this is made clearer and re-issuing an updated notice. We are an International business and fully support the use of the local language in all our jurisdictions.
“We apologise for any misunderstanding or upset this notice has caused.”
The Welsh language commissioner is set to investigate whether any rules had been broken under the Welsh Language Measure 2011, which protects and encourages the use of Welsh.
According to the Welsh Language Use Survey for 2013/14, 11% of people living in Wales said they were fluent in Welsh while 23% said they could speak some Welsh.
But efforts have been made in recent years to revive the language and in July, the Welsh government announced a new strategy to get a million people in the nation speaking the language by 2050.