As a former chief executive of the Brecon Beacons national park authority (1990-2000), I am following with interest its decision to adopt Bannau Brycheiniog as the sole name for the park (Brecon Beacons national park renamed Bannau Brycheiniog in Welsh language move, 17 April). The move makes sense in a country that has strongly maintained its first language, and a national park with a large population of first-language Welsh speakers.
However, it strikes me that the long-established English name for the Brecon Beacons could well be harnessed to promote the park as a “beacon” for conservation and climate change mitigation, which is a major responsibility of the park authority. I note that the word beacon in the comprehensive Oxford Dictionary is first described as “a conspicuous hill commanding a good view of the surrounding country, on which beacons were (or might be) lighted”, but that in a sizeable etymology, many of the references are to the metaphorical use of the word as a guiding light to a better, more appropriate future. So perhaps the park can still claim to be a beacon for a better future.
• The recent renaming of the Brecon Beacons to Bannau Brycheiniog and plans for the Football Association of Wales to become Cymru sound great on the face of it – why not celebrate our shared language and heritage?
However, this ignores the fact that in Wales only 30% of people can speak and understand Welsh, while 70% cannot. I am in the 70%, and while I fully support any legislation and initiatives to ensure the Welsh language does not die out, I also feel that those in power (in Wales) need to accept that Wales has long since adopted English as its lingua franca and no publicity stunts will change that.
• I wonder how long it will take for Bannau Brycheiniog to become as familiar (and pronounceable) as the Brecon Beacons national park. Probably as long as it will take for visitors to Snowdonia to refer to that national park as Eryri. Or Cardiff as Caerdydd.