John Kerry refuses to speak French at news conference


#1

Asked to answer a question with a "bit of French please", he said: "Not today. I got to refresh myself on that."

The response surprised some in the francophone world as Mr Kerry attended a Swiss boarding school and is known to speak the language well...

Mr Kerry's knowledge of French prompted scorn from the right-wing US press during his unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2004, due to the souring of US-French ties over the war in Iraq.
Source

Amusing.


#2

Mayor Bloomberg of NYC always makes an attempt to speak Spanish since New York has a rather large Hispanic population. I partly find this admirable but partly not since he really butchers the language!

Whether or not John Kerry consents to speaking French is the least of our problems.


#3

originally posted by Metzerboy
Mayor Bloomberg of NYC always makes an attempt to speak Spanish since New York has a rather large Hispanic population. I partly find this admirable but partly not since he really butchers the language!

Whether or not John Kerry consents to speaking French is the least of our problems.

:Mayor Bloomberg is having t enough trouble with his English in his recent "***" comment - who knows.


#4

What exactly has this trivial piece of non-news about a has-been US politician got to do with Catholicism?


#5

[quote="Petergee, post:4, topic:314316"]
What exactly has this trivial piece of non-news about a has-been US politician got to do with Catholicism?

[/quote]

Maybeyou haven't heard, but it's the new Secretary of State.


#6

This is of 0 importance -how does this relate to Church Matters?


#7

It’s sad, given the parochialism of most Americans, that fluency in a foreign language is viewed with suspicion.

Most of the foreign-born people I’ve met (even from Anglophone countries) are bilingual at least to some extent.


#8

This is the World News forum. The topic doesn't have to be about the Church or Catholicism:

World News - share perspectives and analyses of current events from around the world


#9

[quote="didymus, post:7, topic:314316"]
It's sad, given the parochialism of most Americans, that fluency in a foreign language is viewed with suspicion.

Most of the foreign-born people I've met (even from Anglophone countries) are bilingual at least to some extent.

[/quote]

Indeed. I noticed even Senator Rubio is getting hit from his own party because he plans to reply to the State of the Union address in both English and Spanish. Dread the thought.


#10

I'm not a John Kerry admirer, but I certainly think it's wise of him to avoid saying anything in a language that is not his regular language without making darned sure that he knows exactly what he is saying. The last thing he wants to do is misuse a word and start an international fracas!

So he attended a Swiss boarding school? Secy of State Kerry is not a young man--his boarding school French-speaking days are probably a bit hazy in his mind!


#11

Why on earth should he speak French at a news conference? Is that the most important issue the media could find to report on?


#12

As a polyglot of long standing, I can testify that when one is focused on working on one language (English, at a news conference), it can be difficult to suddenly and on command switch to second language, even when one knows the second language well.

My thought: Nothing to see here; move on.


#13

[quote="agnes_therese, post:11, topic:314316"]
Why on earth should he speak French at a news conference?

[/quote]

The same reason Reagan spoke a bit of Russian when holding a news conference with Gorbachev - to more directly reach the audience from his counterpart's home country. The Canadian Press reporter wanted a quote that could go directly to the francophone portion of her audience, and the fact that the US Secretary of State speaks French would certainly be newsworthy in Canada. Interestingly, the reporter's French article doesn't mention the refusal, while her English article does.

I tend to doubt this was the issue. The question was very open-ended; Kerry could throw out whatever simple phrase or sentence he wanted, maybe "I have great respect for Canada and its hockey prowess." I think it was more calculated, that he didn't want the news clips from his first day on the job to show him jabbering in a foreign language.


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