Social networks and minority languages speakers: the use of social networking sites among young people


  • Delyth Morris Bangor University
  • Daniel Cunliffe University of Glamorgan
  • Cynog Prys Bangor University



young people, social networks, Welsh, Facebook, social networking sites, language use


This paper outlines the results of a project carried out in Wales in 2010 looking at how extensively young Welsh speakers used the language within their social networks. A study of 200 young people aged 13-18 years was conducted in four Welsh medium secondary schools, two in south east Wales and two in north west Wales. An on-line questionnaire was used to gather information about the young people’s family and educational background, the language of their home, their self-perceived language ability, their use of Welsh and English in different social contexts, and their use of Welsh and English in emails, texting and social networking sites. Then a series of focus groups discussed these issues in more depth. We found that almost 90 per cent of the young people interviewed used Social Networking Sites regularly, and the language they used on these sites reflected to a large extent the language they used with contacts in the real world. There was some evidence that Social Networking Sites afforded young people in the more Anglicised areas of Wales the opportunity to use Welsh on a daily basis, and thus the use of Social Networking Sites can be useful in maintaining a minority language. However, it is necessary to consider innovative ways of encouraging young people to use it within their favoured social media.

Author Biographies

Delyth Morris, Bangor University

Delyth Morris was formerly a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at Bangor University, with research interests in Welsh language socialization in the family, young people, social networks and gender. She retired in 2011.

Daniel Cunliffe, University of Glamorgan

Daniel Cunliffe is a Reader in the School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Glamorgan, Wales. His research investigates the relationship between minority languages and technology. To date this work has focussed mainly on the Welsh language. He is a member of the Welsh Government’s Welsh Language, Technology and Digital Media Group.

Cynog Prys, Bangor University

Cynog Prys is a Lecturer in the School of Social Science at Bangor University, Wales. His current research interests include sociology of language and bilingualism, specialising in the use of Welsh in civil society and the third sector in Wales. Cynog has also studied the use of Welsh by young people in Wales, looking in particular at their use of language on social network sites such as Facebook. He also teaches sociology, social theory, as well as methodology, through the medium of Welsh.



How to Cite

Morris, D., Cunliffe, D., & Prys, C. (2012). Social networks and minority languages speakers: the use of social networking sites among young people. Sociolinguistic Studies, 6(1), 1–20.