Welsh ( Cymraeg or y Gymraeg , pronounced [kəmˈrɑːɨɡ] and [ə ɡəmˈrɑːɨɡ]), is a member of the Brythonic branch of Celtic spoken natively in Wales ( Cymru ), in England by some along the Welsh border and in the Welsh immigrant colony in the Chubut Valley in Argentine Patagonia.
There are also speakers of Welsh throughout the world, most notably in the rest of Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The most recent census figures (2001) presented in "Main Statistics about Welsh" by the Welsh Language Board, indicate 582,400 (20.8% of the population of Wales in households or communal establishments) were able to speak Welsh and 457,946 (16.3%) can speak, read and write it. This compares with 508,100 (18.7%) for 1991. Increasing use of the English language had led to a decline in the numbers of Welsh speakers. Since the introduction of the Welsh Language Act 1993, giving Welsh equal status with English in the public sector in Wales, the Welsh language has enjoyed a revival.
The results of the "2004 Welsh Language Use Survey" indicates that there are 611,000 Welsh speakers in Wales (21.7% of the population living in households, a lower figure of 19.7% is given in the same paper), 62% claim to speak Welsh daily, and 88% of those fluent in the language speak it daily.
The 2004 and 2001 figures both suggest that around 14% of the Welsh population claim to speak Welsh daily. It is notable that the figures are from a survey and so fluency was not tested, however fluency in the 2004 survey (versus a 1992 survey) was only greater in the 3-15 years age group (p.9) and that most of this increase came in the South East (p.10), in all other groups numbers of fluent speakers had declined.
See Welsh English, known as "Wenglish", for the English language as spoken in Wales.