What Obama needs to know to navigate NATO. In Welsh. “Peidiwch, Vladimir!”

With the world’s muckety-mucks (or “crachach,” as they are known in Welsh) meeting in Newport, South Wales, the U.S. ambassador in London, Matthew Barzun, has apparently put his new language skills to use. He learned how to welcome 150 world leaders to the land of dragons and daffodils and pronunciation dilemmas:

“Croeso i Gymru!”

So, in the spirit of “cadw i fyny gyda’r Jonesiaid” (that’s “keeping up with the Joneses”), we thought we should help President Obama get his tongue around a few summit-specific Welsh phrases.

For that, we turned to Catrin Brace, an expert on Welsh-American history who has been representing the Welsh government in the USA since 2002 and was a member of the team that set up the Friends of Wales Caucus on Capitol Hill on St. David’s Day — March 1, 2014.

First, a few basics:

1. Hylo! Fy enw i yw Barack Obama
Hello! My name is Barack Obama

2. Pa ffordd i NATO Cymru?
Which way to the NATO summit?

Once Obama gets there, it’ll be all foreign policy all the time, of course:

3. Does dim dwywaith amdani, dim ‘sgidiau ar y tir
Make no mistake, no boots on the ground

4. Peidiwch, Vladimir!
Cut it out, Vladimir!

It might be good for Obama to remind the British that there are no U.S. plans to mess with their nationalized healthcare system:

5. Os ydych chi’n hoff o’ch meddyg neu’ch darparwr triniaeth iechyd, fedrwch eu cadw nhw
If you like your doctor or healthcare provider, you can keep them

The perception that Obama was fiddling on the golf course while Rome burned this summer presented a bit of a problem. But Celtic Manor, where the summit will be based, boasts one of the best golf courses in the UK (the Ryder Cup 2010 course). So:

6. Ble mae’r cwrs golff?
Where is the golf course?

The meetings and the golf won’t leave much time for tourism. But Obama might want to set aside an afternoon to visit the village with the longest place name in the UK. (What’s more, we understand that Barzun has this down pat.)

7. Awn ni i Lanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllandysiliogogogoch
Let’s go to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllandysiliogogogoch

And if opinions at the summit become divisive, Brace reminds us of an ancient Bardic ceremony, performed at the Eisteddfod of Wales, that Obama should definitely keep in mind: The Archdruid partially withdraws a sword from its sheath three times and asks the assembled crowd, “A oes heddwch?”/”Is there peace?” The reply is always “Heddwch”/”Peace.” After the third time, the sword is replaced fully in the sheath.

Croeso i Gymru, Barack Obama! Heddwch!

President Obama chatted with guests on Thursday while attending a reception hosted by Britain's Prince Charles during the NATO summit in Wales. (Reuters)
Frances Stead Sellers is senior writer at The Washington Post magazine. She joined the magazine in 2014 after spending two years as the editor of the daily Style section, with a focus on profiles, personalities, arts and ideas.



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