• July 23, 2010

The Celtic League General Secretary, Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, has written to the Sainsbury’s supermarket group querying the Companies policy towards the Celtic languages.

The ongoing initiative is part of a general campaign that in due course will target stores from a number of groups which operate in the Celtic countries (see below):

“Dear Sir/Madam

Language policy

I am writing to you to enquire what Sainsbury’s policy is regarding the use of the Cornish, Irish, Scottish and Welsh languages in your stores in Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

I have been informed that Sainsbury’s are currently leafleting people in the Llanbedr Pont Steffan (Lampeter) area to promote a new store that will be opening there, but that there is not one word of Welsh on the leaflet. In an email to Sainsbury’s customer service department (RE: Welsh language [SR 1-233793507]) on 15th June 2010, a Sainsbury representative replied, after speaking with a Welsh speaking colleague in a Sainsbury store in Swansea, that:

“…the name badges are clearly marked if they can speak Welsh, so that customers have the opportunity to speak to somebody in either language. The signage in store is also written in English and Welsh.”

However, even though we are pleased to hear that is the case in the store in Swansea, can I have your assurance that this is also the case in all your stores in Wales? In addition, my organisation would also like to know what Sainsbury’s
language policy is in your stores in the other Celtic countries mentioned above. I would like to point out that, even though private companies are not obliged to provide services in other languages, all of the languages mentioned above do have some form of protection in the countries to which they belong and we would like to know what Sainsbury’s is doing to promote and protect that right. If Sainsbury’s does not have a specific language policy as part of its company, relating to the use of the above mentioned Celtic languages, would you consider adopting one?

Further, in May 2007, I wrote to all the main supermarkets in the UK, highlighting the fact that the Spanish supermarket, Eroski, use four different languages on their own store products. In the letter I asked if Sainsbury’s had any plans to do the same with their own products in respect of the different Celtic languages. In your response, a Sainsbury’s representative said that the company did not have any plans to do this, but the Celtic League would like to
know if Sainsbury’s would now consider this option?

At our 2009 AGM, the following resolution was passed:

This AGM:

“Urges supermarkets in the Celtic countries to adopt a bilingual policy on their own branch products to include the Cornish, Irish, Scottish, Manx and Welsh languages.”

I have therefore been tasked with writing to all supermarkets in the Celtic countries of Cornwall, Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales to ask if they will consider adopting such a policy. I realise that you don’t have any stores in the Isle of Man, but would appreciate a response to the above questions relating to the other Celtic countries.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot”

An update on this campaign will be posted in a forthcoming issue of the Celtic League journal CARN.

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


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