Help us have a Wales of a time in Cardiff.
December 4, 2011 8:59 AM   Subscribe

My husband has been offered an excellent new jon in Wales. We are from Minneapolis, MN. I am curious: what does it mean to be from/live in Wales?

My husband was recently offered a very interesting promotion that is located in Wales. We are a heterosexual couple, married two years, wanting kids in the next year, who have literally no experience or understanding of Welsh culture. Someone said that Wales is the Canada of the UK, but we'd like specifics of Welsh cultures, if it differentiates greatly from English culture.

What are the stereotypes of being Welsh, if any? I'm honestly just curious and won't assume them to be true. Any regional distinction is welcome too, even though the job is in Cardiff.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (41 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
As far as regional distinctions go here's a Welsh accent, if you haven't heard one before.
posted by XMLicious at 9:16 AM on December 4, 2011

For Welsh stereotypes: if you can get hold of it I recommend that you watch Gavin and Stacey.
posted by Laura_J at 9:18 AM on December 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

You might want to mention whether you wouyld be in a more urban area or in rural Wales, they are different and your experience will be distinctly different dependent on where you are.
posted by biffa at 9:25 AM on December 4, 2011

Though the Welsh speak English, they also have a staggeringly confusing Welsh language.
posted by dfriedman at 9:26 AM on December 4, 2011

biffa: it's in Cardiff (see last sentence).
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:27 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I got my Masters from a Welsh University (and I live in Canada, heh). I did not see a major difference between England and Wales culturally. I was in an area where Welsh was the predominant language but everyone spoke English. I enquirer about raising my children there an was told my children would attend an intensive language school to pick up Welsh and then be in a regular school (I don't know if this was specific to that area). I found the geography to be beautiful but with few wild areas (again, I was in what most UKers thought of as an isolated, sparsely populated area). The history of everywhere was amazing to me though. People were definately more restrained than I am used to but still friendly. I couldn't believe the cost of housing, and the real estate purchasing process is very different to North America. The lack of wifi/Internet integrated into everyday life was noticible to me.
posted by saucysault at 9:28 AM on December 4, 2011

Cardiff is an urban centre and is therefore differentiated from the rest of Wales, which is largely suburban and rural. Cardiff has been rejuvenated (yay EU funding!) and is pretty kicking. It has a lot of amenities; I'd be pretty happy to live there. It's also where Torchwood is!

Stereotypes: Rugby. Beer. Sheep. Sheep shagging. Tom Jones. Gavin & Stacey. Dim. Hate the English. Here's a good roundup.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:29 AM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm not Welsh, but this is what I've scraped up as an English person of vaguely Welsh ancestry.

Regional distinctions are that there's a regional divide between north and south, with the two halves sometimes feeling quite distant from one another, supposedly with some emnity. There's also a Welsh–English divide (roughly between east and west, but not quite so simple) where some parts of the country are notably more or less Welsh in language and heritage. A lot of the population and most of the country's institutions lie in the south, and there can be some emnity toward Cardiff from elsewhere.

Also, despite what people say, the Welsh language is actually very beautiful and not really that hard to learn for an English speaker.
posted by Jehan at 9:31 AM on December 4, 2011

Like Scotland I find Wales more progressive than England. Cardiff is pretty diverse and awesome. I am an American expat in Cornwall, your neighbour, Please feel free to contact me regarding visa bullshit or any questions you may have.
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:31 AM on December 4, 2011

Welsh stereotypes: singing, coal mining, rain, intimate relations with sheep.

Wales is sparsely populated (Cardiff being the main exception) with an awful lot of nice scenery (Cardiff again an exception ;) ). Economically it lags behind most of the rest of the UK, and consequently it's a pretty cheap place to live (Cardiff less so than the rest of it, admittedly.)

Government is partially devolved to the Welsh Assembly, but life here isn't particularly different to living in England - legal differences are small, and generally beneficial (free prescriptions) or at least only mildly irritating (shops aren't allowed to give you free bags). Official communications including road signs are always bilingual in Welsh and English. Most natives can't understand Welsh but there's an ongoing effort to revive the language.
posted by dickasso at 9:32 AM on December 4, 2011

Oh.. The accent will take some getting used to!
posted by dickasso at 9:34 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might get some useful insight from this Minnesotan blogger who worked for a time in Wales. He was likely in a very different work situation, but the cultural commentary might be interesting.
posted by missmerrymack at 9:47 AM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

The main difference between Wales and England is that Wales has much lower population density outside of the cities and a much more depressed economy. It also has more semi-pristine countryside (Wales is where my tap water comes from!). Everyone in the UK is friendlier than the English and none of them are even close to as friendly and earnest as Americans. Wales has lots of castles that were built by the English to suppress the indigenous population.

Parts of Cardiff are really really ugly and parts of it are regenerated. It is the only place in the UK my wife and I were ever hassled - bmx kids threw rocks at us when we were walking down a street but I don't think that is a real reflection of the place. Thursday night through to Saturday night are Mardi Gras style drinking fests on the main strips in most of the UK. Cardiff is a bit wilder than most. Brace yourself for lots of seagulls, seagull poop and seagulls waking you up in the morning. Cardiff was the location for the original Torchwood series.

Also keep in mind that to a North American all of Great Britain will seem geographically tiny.

What to watch out for when/if you move: Your stuff that you ship can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 4-5 months to get to you so count on not having your shipped stuff for a long time when you move. Start sorting out your banking before you move - use a bank that has North Am and UK branches (HSBC maybe) or has agreements with banks to smooth things out. International money transfers between banks cost £20/transaction - avoid this by leaving pre-authorized cheques with someone you really really trust otherwise paying your student loans/debts will cost you an extra £240+ a year.

Find out the permanent residency requirements right away - you might not intend to stay longer than your work visa but life has a way of changing your plans - so plan for the possibility and avoid making common work visa mistakes like spending too much time out of the UK to qualify for perm. res.

Try and play Scrabble in Welsh. Let us know how it gyyyoeswhyyynyyado.
posted by srboisvert at 9:54 AM on December 4, 2011 [8 favorites]

Cardiff is pretty cosmopolitan. You don't need to learn Welsh to live there. It's the capital of Wales, and has the Welsh Assembly. It's a great place to live, plenty of parks and museums and so on. I don't think it is especially liberal or bohemian. The Canada of the UK? - Not even sure what that means ;) It has it's own culture and accent, it's Welsh but not Welsh language. In terms of stereotypes, Cardiff people could be seen as drunk rugby fans who hate the English, especially the softy southern English ...

It's a big city, was a major centre for the industrial revolution, coal industry, steel industry; got trashed economically in the 70s/80s; and got reinvented after that. There's plenty to see in and around there. If I got a good promotion, I'd go back there from the US (where I currently am). It's definitely not a place to avoid.

Anyway the bigger difference is likely to be USA:UK, rather than Cardiff:rest of UK. Everything is expensive, but the quality of life is very different. The property market is difficult, so I hear.
posted by carter at 10:03 AM on December 4, 2011

Cardiff After Dark
posted by caek at 10:05 AM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am an American expat living in Gloucestershire which is in England but not too far from Wales. In fact, I was just in Wales today on a day trip around the Monmouth area.

Having been in many South Wales cities and towns - including Cardiff - I didn't find it felt much different than England. I do think the Wales countryside is more gorgeous than England which may explain why they like to make fun of Wales: envy. Cardiff is a great city. From our visits there, I think we'd be really happy living there.

I don't think the craziness that happens on weekend nights in city centers should have any impact on you. We used to live in central London - which is much more insane - and places like Soho or Camden town late at night were just places you learn to carefully avoid.
posted by vacapinta at 10:19 AM on December 4, 2011

Yes all those photos are pretty much from one street in the city center with lots of pubs and clubs on it.

I guess you figured out how small the UK is in relation to the US, but this is useful: Cardiff to London is about 130 miles?
posted by carter at 10:26 AM on December 4, 2011

I'm a non-drinker, non-pub person, and sometimes feel a bit intimidated by nightlife. On the few occasions I've wandered around Cardiff city centre after dark, it was very busy and there was lots of drinking, but it had a very friendly atmosphere. And the next day the litter had vanished.

It was a great city to visit, and I look forward to going back.

Also: Doctor Who.
posted by BinaryApe at 10:29 AM on December 4, 2011

I'm from Minneapolis and lived in the UK for a long time. I agree that Wales (esp. Cardiff) is very similar in lots of ways to the rest of the UK and it's more a matter of USA vs. UK than USA vs. Wales. I can't offer any suggestions specific to Cardiff, as I've never been there, but I'd be happy to talk about my time in the UK vs. Mpls. anytime. Feel free to memail me if you'd like to chat.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:39 AM on December 4, 2011

Cardiff is lovely (look you!), but not particularly Welsh-y. The only thing you'll probably notice is that all the signage is bilingual. Having lived in lots of other places (UK and Europe), I'd say that Cardiff is one of the nicest places to live. Small enough to walk from one end of the city centre to the other, but large enough to have all the amenities you could ever want. Close to the mountains and countryside in one direction and the sea in the other. Also not that far from England (London) should you desire to escape.

MeMail me if you want any specific info or help about Cardiff.
posted by car01 at 11:02 AM on December 4, 2011

"It's very green and lots of farms and lots of sheep," says my wife who spent some of her early years in Wales. "It's very beautiful."
posted by Jagz-Mario at 11:17 AM on December 4, 2011

Beware the extraordinary Welsh persecution complex. I could never sort out the very, very confusing UK and Ireland differences, so just say that the Welsh are part of the U.K. and you'll be good to go - don't say that Wales is part of England and/or Britain (again, can't remember which is which, sooo confusing) or you will NEVER get on their good side again... they will NOT forget that you dared conflate them with those other people. Also, to my Canadian ears, they sound identical to every other dialetic in the UK and Ireland, but play along and pretend that there are oceans of difference in accent!
posted by Yowser at 11:53 AM on December 4, 2011

England = just England, Britain = England, Scotland and Wales, UK = England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As Yowser says don't refer to the Welsh as being English!
posted by Laura_J at 11:59 AM on December 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

Most of Wales is very rural but, as other have said, Cardiff is metropolitan and there's a thriving cultural scene. Snowdonia is shockingly beautiful and only a couple of hours drive north of Cardiff. The Brecon Beacons are even closer. Everyone speaks English but if you're interested in vocabulary the BBC has a great online tutorial for beginners Welsh, both North and South dialects.
posted by freya_lamb at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wales is the Maine of England.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:20 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Without the medical marijuana and French people.
posted by XMLicious at 12:24 PM on December 4, 2011

The Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde contain some allusion to/parody of how people think of Wales/what Wales is like, I guess (actual Welsh or English people can clarify that :P). And I guess "Torchwood" does, too. :) The satire of bureaucracy, politics, regulations, and so on contained in the Thursday Next books actually helped me understand a lot about the UK (funny, I was hoping that some things weren't as bad there as they are here!).

Take all of the above with a grain of salt as I'm not Welsh (maybe genetically a bit, but that's beside the point) or British (again, other than ancestry). :P
posted by wintersweet at 12:25 PM on December 4, 2011

Heed Laure_J and my advice well. blue_beetle would be on the shit list for saying that Wales is part of England.
posted by Yowser at 12:46 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

A thread about Welsh stereotypes ought to include a link to Newport State of Mind.
posted by oliverburkeman at 12:48 PM on December 4, 2011

Additionally, not quite sure why this question is anonymous (Wales is a principality, not an embarrassing skin condition) or I'd message you directly - but I'm based in South Wales so don't hesitate to get in touch if you need help/advice.
posted by dickasso at 12:58 PM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Welsh person here, originally from the valleys above Cardiff, now suffering expatdom in English because I had the misfortune to fall in love with an Englishman.
"Someone said that Wales is the Canada of the UK, but we'd like specifics of Welsh cultures, if it differentiates greatly from English culture."
Having spent time in both Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec) and the States (east coast) I would take this to mean that Americans take the piss out of Canucks (accent, no guns, more rural, etc.) while secretly envying their way of life. I think too that the English are a little envious of the strong cultural identity of and passion for being Welsh, Scottish or Irish.

If you're offended by that last paragraph scroll up and see some of the derogatory Welsh stereotypes thrown about with gay abandon!

Other thoughts in no particular order:

- It's not just the accent that will take getting used to but the colloquialisms. Beg, borrow or steal a copy of John Edwards' book Talk Tidy. You'd be twp not to.

- If you live in Wales while the children are young and able to learn Welsh, grasp the opportunity with both hands - a second language at pre-school and beyond is hugely beneficial. Even if it is Welsh and useful only if they continue to live in Wales, emigrate to Patagonia or work for the BBC ;-)

- The Welsh prize education above most things.

- Most of the population are rugby mad, the rest are just big fans. It is perfectly acceptable to scream abuse at referees, especially if they're English, then go for a pint with them in the pub afterwards.

- House/rental prices are significantly lower outside of Cardiff and would give you the opportunity to settle in a smaller community (great if you start raising children there).

- I adore Gavin & Stacey but remember it's written by Ruth Jones (Welsh) and James Corden (English) and is no more a true picture of Wales than Frasier is a true picture of Seattle. Although I swear they based Doris' character on my great aunt Gladys.

- Like the Scots, after centuries of enduring the superiority complex of the English we can be a bit prickly and defensive about our nations. Sorry.

- The Torchwood accent linked to by XMLicious is very representative of the accent (I couldn't understand why my voice was coming through the headphones until I remembered I'd right clicked on it earlier.

- Don't say "England" when you mean the UK. blue_beetle's comment is either trolling or ignorant. I'm sitting on my hands to avoid saying something rude.

I'm on a deadline so have to rush off but feel free to memail me if you have any questions.
posted by humph at 1:04 PM on December 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

"Beware the extraordinary Welsh persecution complex. I could never sort out the very, very confusing UK and Ireland differences, so just say that the Welsh are part of the U.K. and you'll be good to go - don't say that Wales is part of England and/or Britain (again, can't remember which is which, sooo confusing) or you will NEVER get on their good side again... they will NOT forget that you dared conflate them with those other people. Also, to my Canadian ears, they sound identical to every other dialetic in the UK and Ireland, but play along and pretend that there are oceans of difference in accent!"
posted by Yowser at 11:53 AM on December 4 [+] [!]

Here's a handy guide. And another.

If the rest of the world can easily grasp the concepts of American states, Canada (completely separate country!), North America, etc. I am still bewildered at the fact that otherwise intelligent mefites continue to conflate England and the United Kingdom.

But I do understand confusion on accents - to British ears the stronger accents ("I pahked my cah in Hahvahd Yahd") are more instantly recognisable - and of course we hear a lot more US accents on film/television than you hear British.
posted by humph at 1:20 PM on December 4, 2011

You'll be living in South Wales, which really means South-East Wales. In the 1800s, Britain's largest coal deposits were discovered beneath the north-south Valleys that run down to the coast at Cardiff and Swansea, and an enormous industrial boom started. The first wave of population movement to that area was from other parts of Wales, and only later (when the boom got really big) did other British and Europeans come in. This is probably what saved the Welsh language -- it was no longer just a rural tongue like Irish Gaelic but became urban, industrial, and working-class/middle-class. (Cardiff still has the largest number of Welsh speakers in Wales, but nobody knows where they are.) The Valleys were the most densely populated, industrialized, productive, and unionized part of the country, and Cardiff went from a small market town to a big city fueled by the Butes' coal money. The working people's politics were radical socialist and gave rise to the British National Health Service and the nationalization of much of that industry.

In the 1970s the bottom began to fall out of coal industry, but it was in the 1980s that the blow really fell, when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher shut all the coal pits in a mighty struggle with the unions (which she won). Unemployment went to ridiculous levels -- entire cities out of work en masse -- and people still hate her guts to a degree that makes Rush Limbaugh look like an Obama supporter. To this day, the Valleys still have a lot of problems with unemployment, poverty, and excessive drinking. humph is right that the housing is cheaper there, and it's a culturally rich area with many wonderful residents, but when people talk about how Welsh landscape outside of Cardiff is beautiful & there's a lot of farming, they are not talking about the Rhymney.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:24 PM on December 4, 2011

I've been living in Cardiff now for about five years; it's definitely grown on me while I've been here. There's a fair wee whack to be doing in Cardiff itself, and as pointed out by others above, there's a lot of beautiful countryside to be seeing as well - the Beacons just to the north, the Gower about an hour west, Pembrokeshire further out that way etc.

There's a lot of relatively new developments in Cardiff: the Bay, which used to be an important coal exporting ports, is now mostly flats of varying degrees of swankiness. One upshot of this glut of housing is that rent and house prices are a bit lower than is typical for somewhere Cardiff's size. There are some rough areas down here still, but I've had no trouble at all the time I've been here. The centre of town can be a bit dodgy of a Friday/Saturday evening, possibly a bit more than yr standard British city centre: lots of folk from the depressed mining towns up the valleys come down to make a night of it. I wouldn't worry about it, though, there're plenty of other nice places around the town to be going.

Despite its reputation, Welsh is actually not that tricky for English speakers, but you won't need in in the Diff; it's mostly in the north and west that you'll find places where Welsh is the main spoken language, but even there you can get by with English. If you have any questions, feel free to memail me and I'll be happy to help as I can.
posted by Dim Siawns at 2:37 PM on December 4, 2011

I've never visited, but conversations between me and various representatives of English-speaking cultures (my sister-in-law's brother-in-law is Welsh, a bunch of UK folks were at the Star Wars and ROTK lines with me in Hollywood, I was a competitive Irish dancer, my mom's the regional VP for our Scottish clan, etc.) lead me to believe that the cultural differences, amongst UK types, are only substantial because people make a big deal about them.

I mean, yes, the Welsh language looks nutty to someone not used to it, and sure they're more into rugby (as a population,) but mostly things boil down to "I AM NOT ENGLISH" and then "ah, yeah, I'm specifically Irish" or whatever. Like New Zealand versus Australia, the distinctions are really subtle. People from the UK all basically have the same reactions to things in the US, and miss the same commercial products, regardless of which region they happen to be from. And I, at least, can't reliably tell the difference between the non-English accents until they reach the point where they're almost unintelligible (and even then am sometimes wrong.) It generally impresses folks from the UK that I can tell they're not Australian (which, okay, I do not get, because that distinction is obvious.)

But boy howdy do not even hint to a Welsh (or Irish, or Scottish) person that you think they're English. Even when they know it's an honest mistake they're still grouchy for hours.

(I spend lots of time reading the regional news sites on the BBC for stuff to share with the clan members on Facebook; they're interesting enough that I'm willing to recommend you do it too.)
posted by SMPA at 2:43 PM on December 4, 2011

Okay, I have to chime in here as an American (albeit with British relatives) to say that I totally have no difficulty at all telling the difference between Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and various other British accents. It weirds me out that some people seem to be saying that they can't tell the difference between even a Scottish and an English accent. (So, like, if you're a Doctor Who fan David Tennant sounds the same to you in or out of character?) Then again, someone once told me that they couldn't tell the difference between a South African Boer accent and a British accent, so I guess it's feasible.

The parallel with Australia and New Zealand seems flawed to me because the (white) populations of those countries would have been relatively homogenized and they were the settlers in both cases, of course. A more apt analogy IMO would be with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania - yeah, they were part of the same country until a couple of decades ago and the Russian Empire before that, they speak Russian and have sizeable ethnically-Russian populations, they probably have a great deal of their national viewpoint and experience in common with Russia and other former Soviet states - but to act as though they're interchangeable would be obtuse and kind of shameful (especially to the face of someone from one of those countries) and to propose that an Estonian, Latvian, or Lithuanian is essentially the same thing as a Russian is plainly insulting and indeed I couldn't fault one of them for being grievously insulted and angry about something like that.
posted by XMLicious at 4:32 PM on December 4, 2011

I don't think I did a very good job of answering the question you actually asked above, in retrospect. The differences between Welsh and English cultures are not vast, but they are there. Possibly the biggest difference is the role of nationalism, and this difference can, I think, ultimately be attributed to the fact that, in rather simplified terms, the English were historically the conquerors and the Welsh the conquered. Now that the English (and later British) imperialist project is widely seen as immoral, displays of English nationalism are more associated with unpleasant fascist and otherwise far-right groups such as the BNP (which are, despite their name, largely an English party) than are their Welsh/Scottish/Manx/Cornish/etc. counterparts. What might superficially seem like the nationalist equivalent to the BNP in Wales, Plaid Cymru, is not really comparable. (That's not to say, of course, that PC are all sweetness and light; as with any political party, they have their venal and shortsighted and prejudiced sides.)

Untangling the different nationalities within Britain is actually really quite difficult, and I don't think that an AskMe answer is the place to be doing it. What I will say, though, is that not only should you not, as SMPA mentions above, think of non-English Britons as English, neither should you summarise the situation as "...mostly things boil down to "I AM NOT ENGLISH" and then "ah, yeah, I'm specifically Irish" or whatever.", because (apologies to SMPA) that is condescending as hell. Of course there's resistance to being identified as English because assimilatory pressure from English culture is the biggest threat to the continued existence of Welsh (and other non-English British) identities. Perhaps this seems silly to you; it sometimes seems a little silly to me, even though as a Scot I often feel something similar. But I think that attitude is insulting in that it suggests that Welsh culture is just a slightly modified version of English culture i.e., it is not something of its own but merely an adjunct to something else. In short, the relationship of Welsh national identity to English national identity is difficult, but as long as you don't call a Welsh person English, you'll be fine; also, avoid sheep-shagging jokes, everybody's heard them all already.

Outside nationalist concerns, politics in Wales trends rather more left than the UK as a whole. I don't think this is so much a consequence of a separate culture as it is a consequence of a history of labour movements associated with the coal mines and iron foundries that dotted Wales during the Industrial Revolution, although of course this has in turn influenced how Welsh culture has developed since. There's a bit of a north-south divide here, since the mines and foundries were mostly in the Valleys in the south; this is where the majority of the population live, and it's still by and large a Labour heartland. The north is more rural, and it's mostly here that Plaid finds its constituency.

There shouldn't be any massive cultural shocks awaiting you in Wales, if I've got a decent handle on the general American impression of British culture. As others have mentioned, the working-class sport in south Wales is rugby rather than football/soccer, but that'll only make a difference if you're a big fan of one or the other. Religion-wise, Wales as a whole is, or at least has been historically, a bastion of Methodism. Anglicanism is present, but largely under the auspices of the Church in Wales, rather than the Church of England. Cardiff has a reasonably big immigrant population: as in the rest of the UK, loads of folk from various parts of the former Empire (e.g., Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jamaica etc.) have settled in the city. Probably the only distinctively Cardiffian immigrant group is the Somalian folk: there's been a lot of Somali immigration in the rest of the UK, mostly quite recent and largely as a result of the civil war there, but there was a large influx of Somalian dockworkers into Cardiff about a century ago and they've stuck around, so it's a more established group here. Tradiational Welsh cuisine is mostly of the stodgy meat-and-potatoes variety, although there's plenty more exciting stuff to be had in modern Wales.

In short, I doubt there's much culturewise to trip you up. As I said in my previous answer, though, if you have any more specific questions about Cardiff, I'll be happy to provide as much insight I can as a resident via MeMail.
posted by Dim Siawns at 12:33 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, don't make sheep-shagging jokes. A friend of mine who is Welsh, though not visibly in terms of his accent, considers them racist, and at the least they'll be found tiresome.

Wales has its own Welsh-language TV channel, S4C. There is a lot of coverage on there of traditionally Welsh things - rugby, agriculture, male voice choirs - as well as a picture of what modern Wales is like, but of course, it is television and there'll be great chunks of subtlety that won't be there! Chrome will translate any Welsh websites for you.

When I was small I really wanted to live in Wales because of Jenny Nimmo's The Snow Spider series of books.
posted by mippy at 1:32 AM on December 5, 2011

I've had a crush on Wales since I read "The Grey King" by Susan Cooper as a kid. TVTropes has some YMMV comments here:
Land of My Fathers and Their Sheep
posted by nicebookrack at 1:58 PM on December 5, 2011

Chrome might try to translate Welsh, but it won't get very far... slang and English loan words abound...
posted by Yowser at 5:20 PM on December 5, 2011

I'm from the US east coast. I grew up in Virginia and have spent a lot of time in West Virginia. A long time ago I lived in the UK for one year. My boyfriend at the time was from Wales (Penarth, just outside Cardiff), and we traveled from north London to Wales on many weekends during that year.

So that's where I'm coming from with what I'm about to say.

I've always thought of Wales as the West Virginia of the UK. It's got the coal-mining history, the blue collar/working class/"redneck" existence compared to the rest of the country. It's got a language that everyone claims is inscrutable but which isn't that hard to pick up or to pronounce once you learn a few basic rules. Residents pride themselves on having originated from somewhere different--linguistically, at the very least--from those to their east in England. But they also have a chip on their shoulder about being treated as second-class citizens (figuratively). They've got the relative poverty but also the incomparable beauty of the land. The twisting roads, the driving directions given according to what color paint is marked on what sheep in which pasture, or which pub you'll come to next in the road. It's in such close physical proximity to London and much of England, but most in England ostracize it as if it's a whole continent and another species away.

Wales has so many things to recommend it. It also has a reputation as a hopeless backwater. People worth anything understand that both West Virginia and Wales have their eccentricities and also are worth every minute you spend there.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:13 PM on December 7, 2011

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