What languages do our world leaders speak?
Our world leaders are, by definition, some of the most important people in our world. Their decisions and choices shape our lives both now, and for the future. Which is why we have to hope they know what they’re doing and what they’re talking about. Though what languages are they talking in? For the sake of international relations, shouldn’t all our world leaders have at least a working understanding of more than one language? Here are the languages some of our world leaders speak.
Photo via Wikimedia
Angela Merkel is one of the most formidable, recognisable figures on the international political stage. She serves as Germany’s Chancellor, and is thought of by many as the unofficial leader of the EU. Her language skills are impressive; obviously fluent in German, Merkel is also proficient in Russian, having completed at least a part of her studies in Russia. Merkel also speaks English pretty well, even if her preference when giving speeches is to do so on German.
Though some would argue that he barely has command of the English language, English is Trump’s native tongue. He is a proud monolingual speaker.
As France’s president, Emmanuel Macron is a staunch proponent of French first for everything; to the point where the use of English in France is often frowned upon. He has even at times, since taking over as president back in 2017, talked of his intention to make French the world’s first language. Though that doesn’t mean Macron can only speak French, only that he chooses to use his native tongue more than any other. Macron is also fluent in English and uses the language with ease — when he has to!
Photo via Flickr
Xi JinPing has been president of the People’s Republic of China since 2012. He has some knowledge of English and has been heard to speak it on occasion, though predominantly sticks to his native Mandarin.
Bumbling idiot he may come across as, the UK’s current Prime Minister is no fool when it comes to languages. As well as English, Johnson is said to be fluent in French, Italian, and Latin. In school he studied Ancient Greek alongside Latin, and also has a decent understanding of both German and Spanish. And here was us hoping that those who are monolingual would have a little more sense, a little more understanding, and compassion for the world around them…
Photo via Flickr
Pedro Sánchez is one of our newer leaders in world politics. Prime Minister of Spain only since June 2018, Sánchez has a lot on his plate to deal with. The pro-independence of Catalan movement seems a neverending source of turmoil in the country, and Sánchez himself has been accused of paving the way for the rise of Spain’s far right. Though his language skills are great! As well as Spanish, Sánchez is fluent in both English and French.
Sánchez has company being new to the world leader club. Scott Morrison has only been Prime Minister for Australia since August 2018. He appears to be monolingual; though some Australians would argue that he has trouble even speaking English. Morrison is known as a quiet Australian, with only one or two memorable outbursts.
Shinzō Abe is Japan’s Prime Minister, in his position since 2012. As a self-proclaimed ultra-nationalist, it will come as no surprise that Abe only speaks Japanese. Though he has been known to use English with an auto-prompter; just not always to great effect.
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi recently started his second term in office, currently working on uniting the country and fixing its infrastructure, which is no small task! In terms of his language skills, Modi is fluent in both Gujarati and Hindi, and also has a working knowledge of English.
Our world leaders know better than anyone — we hope — that understanding other cultures and ways of life are crucial to improving our global relationships. We think they see the importance of language in improving communication. So the question is, why don’t more of them speak multiple languages?
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