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CENSUS OFFICE,                            
LONDON, S.W.,              
5th July, 1913.


The results of the Census inquiry as to the number of persons in Wales and the county of Monmouth who speak English only or Welsh only, or both English and Welsh, are embodied in the volume which we have the honour to submit herewith.

Scope of the Inquiry. —This information was required by the provisions of the Census (Great Britain) Act, 1910, in addition to the particulars as to sex, age, condition as to marriage, occupation, birthplace, etc., which were required to be furnished with respect to every person in England and Wales. The question as to language spoken related specifically to persons who abode on the night of the census (2nd April, 1911) in Wales and Monmouthshire; it excluded, therefore, persons of Welsh nationality who were enumerated in England (exclusive of Monmouthshire), while it included persons who were not of Welsh nationality, but were enumerated within the specified area. No return was required with respect to children under three years of age.

Returns of previous censuses. —Similar inquiries have been made at two previous censuses. In the Census Act of 1900 the terms are identical with those in the Act of 1910, but in 1890, children under three years of age were not excluded from this provision of the Act, and no direct reference was made to persons speaking English only. The census of 1891 being the first occasion on which the inquiry was made, some want of precision in the replies was perhaps inevitable, although the instruction printed on the schedule was apparently clear. In the column headed "Language spoken" the wording was "If only English, write 'English'; if only Welsh, write 'Welsh'; if English and Welsh, write 'Both'" In tabulating the replies, however, it was found that many persons who could speak both languages were returned as 'Welsh,' presumably on the ground that Welsh was the language habitually spoken, and that a similar statement had often been made in the case of infants who were only a few months, or even only a few days old. The published results of the tabulation in 1891, however, exclude all children under two years of age, and the statements with reference to infants below that age do not therefore affect the figures. It is unfortunate that the limit of age then adopted did not coincide with that which ten years later was prescribed by the Census Act, because it prevents exact comparisons with later censuses. Moreover, the area of tabulation in the 1891 Census Report was the Registration District and County, and no detail as to age in combination with the language spoken was given in the table, while the results of both the 1901 and 1911 censuses are shown by age-periods and for Administrative Areas, that is Administrative Counties, County Boroughs, Urban Districts, and Rural Districts.

Standard of proficiency in English or Welsh. —No definite rules for the guidance either of the persons who have had to make returns of the language spoken by the members of their families or of the local officers whose duty it was to collect and to revise the returns have been laid down as regards the degree of acquaintance with either language which would enable a person to claim or to disclaim ability to speak it. It may have been held by some that the habitual use of one or both of the languages was the subject of the inquiry; while others may have regarded the question from the literary or educational standpoint, and the replies, quite accurate according to the point of view, might mean entirely different things in the two cases. In fact it has to be determined whether the replies generally indicate only the language which is the mother tongue or is acquired naturally by intercourse with neighbours; or whether they represent, in, addition, a linguistic proficiency attained by study, either during the Ordinary term of school-life or subsequently. The evidence of the tabulated results appears to favour the view that scholastic instruction in one or other language has as a rule been taken into account in the census schedules, for the proportion of bilinguals in the population increases very rapidly in the age period, 5-15, and then more slowly up to a maximum at 45-65 years of age; more than forty thousand children, however, between the ages of 5 and 15, are returned as able to speak "Welsh only." It is at least probable that some ability to speak both languages is in many cases not acknowledged in the census return when only one language is in common use, but it is not obvious from the figures whether the consequent exaggeration of the monoglot population is greater among persons returned as able to speak "English only," or among those returned as able to speak "Welsh only."

Method of Tabulation. —At the two previous censuses the tabulation has not been performed as on the present occasion directly from the entries made on the schedules, but from copies of these returns made by the local enumerators. At all three censuses it has been the duty of the enumerators, when collecting the schedules, to examine them and to make any necessary corrections and additions. The results show, however, that particulars as to the language spoken have been omitted more frequently at the present census than would appear to have been the case either in 1891 or in 1901. A very large number of the schedules contained the required information only as regards the head of the family, and the total population for whom no statement was made amounted to no less than 58,517 in 1911, while in 1901 the number for whom no particulars were entered in the enumerators' returns was only 2,757. It may be inferred, therefore, either that the schedules in 1911 were returned in a more defective condition than at the earlier census, or that many of the defects in the 1901 schedules were concealed in the process of copying, the assumption probably being made by the enumerator that all persons entered on the schedule would have the same linguistic status as the head of the family. This assumption appears from reference to the returns to be generally, but not universally, true; and therefore children for whom no statement as to language spoken has been made, but who were enumerated on schedules in which the head of the family was returned as speaking English only, Welsh only, or both English and Welsh, have been distinguished in columns 12 to 17 of Table 1, page 1. The first group (head of family speaking English only) amounted to 19,647, the second to 2,803, and the third to 11,798.

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