APPROACHES TO THE LINGUISTIC GEOGRAPHY OF NORTHEAST WALES, 1750-1846 LANGUAGE, in the absence of other tangible evidence, is perhaps the most powerful and, indeed, expressive of indices as to the extent of culture areas.1 Therefore, when we come to re-examine and attempt evaluation of recent pronouncements by scholars interested in the impact of industrialism on the territorial limits of culture areas in Wales, 2 our starting point must be to consider space relations between the currency of spoken Welsh and English. Trends leading up to the present-day distributions seem to have been initiated during the eighteenth century when labour requirements in the growing mining and metallurgical industries could not be satisfied locally. To understand modern trends it is necessary to examine the historical data closely, particularly since 1750. There are, however, many difficulties for the social geographer who attempts description and analysis of linguistic conditions in Wales for the period between 1750 and 1891. Foremost is the dearth of comprehensive statistical material since no official population census before 1891 asked a question on language: even the 1891 census itself presents difficulties in interpretation.3 Paradoxically, these difficulties are added to by the fact that despite many articles and papers on the subject of the Welsh language in the vernacular press of the nineteenth century, few attempted even a local survey: at their very best, hazy and generalized descriptions only are available. For these reasons, a modern approach to the study of culture antecedents must, of necessity, be based on inference from incomplete evidence collected originally for quite different purposes. Exploratory surveys, 1879-1957 It was not until towards the end of the nineteenth century that the first serious attempts at outlining the earlier distributions of vernacular Welsh appeared. Ravenstein's Statistical Survey of the four Celtic languages seems to have been the pioneer work to emphasize spatial distributions when he recognized that the reign of one universal language appears to be more remote than ever before'. 4 Spurred on by his initiative, A. J. Ellis later produced the results of a more-detailed preliminary survey in an attempt to stimulate members of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion into conducting a thorough investigation. His particular aim was to establish the western limit of English, distinguishing between colloquial and 'book-English' in an attempt to recognize finer grades in the local currency of the two languages.5