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Political Leaders and Languages

 Language Learning Forum : Polyglots Post Reply
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Steve
Diglot
Groupie
South Africa
Joined 5154 days ago

56 posts - 58 votes 
Speaks: English*, Afrikaans
Studies: Norwegian

 
 Message 9 of 142
18 January 2006 at 4:08pm | IP Logged 
It's all a bit ridiculous, what with the US boasting about her multilingual skills, to have her embarrassing herself like that...
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loïc
Tetraglot
Newbie
Joined 5417 days ago

10 posts - 12 votes
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish, German
Studies: Portuguese

 
 Message 10 of 142
18 January 2006 at 4:12pm | IP Logged 
José Manuel Barroso (president of the European Comission), speaks fluently Portuguese (mother language), English, French and Spanish. His French is flawless, very impressive (no accent, difficult to tell he is not French!), and I think his English is perfect too.

French leaders are completely linguistic uneducated, except maybe Dominique de Villepin (First Minister): he is a diplomat and speaks fluently English (sure) and Spanish (I think). Chirac (President) babbles a bit of English and had a few russian courses in his youth...
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Skandinav
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Denmark
Joined 5147 days ago

139 posts - 145 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, English, German, Russian, Swedish, Norwegian

 
 Message 11 of 142
18 January 2006 at 4:15pm | IP Logged 
Yeah, your right. But I think it is a typical tactical move from this administration. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld are all accused to be ignorant nutcases without any kind of respect for anything "foreign", so to have a "Russian expert" is a nice asset. She is, however, a very clever lady with excellent academic skills.

Btw. if your're Norwegian, do you happen to know whether Bondevik actually said "Welcome to the mess." to Blair?
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Steve
Diglot
Groupie
South Africa
Joined 5154 days ago

56 posts - 58 votes 
Speaks: English*, Afrikaans
Studies: Norwegian

 
 Message 12 of 142
18 January 2006 at 4:19pm | IP Logged 
Indeed, she's a brilliant woman...

I'm not Norwegian, just here on a visit, but I have just been assured that that's what Bondevik said. I think his English was always quite a source of embarrassment to the locals.
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KingM
Triglot
Senior Member
michaelwallaceauthor
Joined 5451 days ago

275 posts - 300 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, French
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 13 of 142
18 January 2006 at 5:37pm | IP Logged 
Some Mexicans that I know talk about Vincente Fox's speaking ability, both for his strong accent in English and his easily-mocked speaking style in Spanish. Americans, on the other hand, seem impressed by Bush's ability to say, "Bueno días" in a semi-coherent fashion.
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administrator
Hexaglot
Forum Admin
Switzerland
FXcuisine.com
Joined 5636 days ago

3094 posts - 2983 votes 
12 sounds
Speaks: French*, EnglishC2, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 14 of 142
19 January 2006 at 1:06am | IP Logged 
Skandinav wrote:
Well, in my opinion the question - "Will you run for presidency in 2008 - was pretty straightforward. For a diplomat there are three options: "yes", "no" or "no comment." From what I've heard she was made a laughing stock in Russian nationalist circles. But then again, who's Rodina, the Communists or LDPR to make fun of anyone?


I read both the Ekho Moskvi transcript and the Pravda article but could not find verification in the claim that she was caught red-handed in not being a fluent Russian speaker. Perhaps I missed something, but there is a long interview all in Russian on the radio Ekho Moskvi, and she gives rather detailed answers to the questions she get asked, not just 'Da' or 'Net'. Then at the end she gives one rather funny answer but without having heard it's really hard to tell the context. Now Ekho Moskvi is well respected in Russian and abroad but the current version of Pravda, if my memory serves me right, is a 4-page-affair with inflamed attacks on anything not communist. The whole paper is written like an editorial with no pretense at all at being objective, and when you read the article about Dr Rice it's pretty clear all they wanted was to attack their archenemy, the United States. Now Dr Rice may not speak perfect Russian but there is a simple and objective way for us to find out - just get a copy of the audio file of her interview on Ekho Moskvi.
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Linas
Octoglot
Senior Member
Lithuania
Joined 5172 days ago

253 posts - 279 votes 
5 sounds
Speaks: Lithuanian*, Russian, Latvian, French, English, German, Spanish, Polish
Studies: Slovenian, Greek, Hungarian, Arabic (Written), Portuguese

 
 Message 15 of 142
19 January 2006 at 1:45am | IP Logged 
A little bit about linguistical skills of the leaders of Baltic states.

Both Mr. Valdas Adamkus, the president of Lithuania, and Ms. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the President of Latvia have spent a lot of time outside of their countries(1944-1991), due to the Soviet occupation. Although Mr. Adamkus came to the USA already as an adult, after long stay there he has acquired so strong American accent, that at first when he came to Lithuania after 1991, he hardly sounded as a Lithuanian when speaking Lithuanian, however with years his accent has leveled out. However this does not mean that the Lithuanian of Mr. Adamkus was defficient on other points. Lithuanian(and other Baltic) war refugees of 1944 who established themselves in USA or Sweden, made very strong efforts to preserve their identity and their language, so that often not even they have preserved good command of their native tongues, but their foreign-born children and sometimes even grandchildren speak good Lithuanian(Latvian, Estonian).

Mr.Adamkus had occasion to learn some Russian during the first Soviet occupation, and this was for him an asset when doing his military service in US army and later, in his career in US administrative bodies(he was an ecologist). He was often sent with US delegation to Moscow for talks. I think that he had plenty opportunities to practice his Russian skills and he had good command of that language. Besides Russian, Mr. Adamkus knows some Polish.

As for Ms. Vike-Freiberga, she used to live in Canada, Quebec, so she has command of her mother tongue, Latvian, and of English and French. Having became the president of Latvia, she started to learn Russian, but I do not know howe much she has actually learnt.   

Mr. Arnold Ruutel, the president of Estonia, on the contrary, is a former ex-apparatchik of the Communist Party, so his linguistical skills are limited to his native Estonian and Russian. Former Estonian president Lennart Meri was a dissident author who translated prose from English to Estonian, so he certainly spoke English(I think Finnish as well).

In general Baltic political leaders, if they were in emmigration during Soviet years, speak one or several Western languages, but rarely Russian(Mr. Adamkus is an exception). On the contrary, those Baltic politicians who lived in the Soviet Union usually have the command mostly only of Russian(as all Baltics of middle and older generation), which does not mean that there is none among non-emmigrant Baltic politicians who has good command of Western languages(English or German).

Edited by Linas on 19 January 2006 at 1:52am

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sapedro
Triglot
Senior Member
Portugal
descredito.blogspot.
Joined 5378 days ago

216 posts - 219 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, English, French
Studies: Croatian, Serbian, Greek

 
 Message 16 of 142
19 January 2006 at 6:00am | IP Logged 
José Manuel Durão Barroso's English is not perfect, at least in accent.

It's very easy to tell that there is a Portuguese speaking English...most of us Portuguese have a particular Portuguese accent speaking English...


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