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The Kerry’s And Foreign Languages

I read in today’s edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette an article about John Kerry’s wife with the title “The Americanization of Teresa Heinz Kerry.” It describes her way from childhood in what was then Laurenço Marques to where she is today. One of the stages along the way was the position of “translator-interpreter and consultant for the United Nations” and, according to the paper, she speaks five languages.

This reminded me of an entry in Language Log not too long ago with the title “No French please, people are watching.” The subject was John Kerry and his knowledge of foreign languages:

In private settings he has chatted in excellent French at length with Alain de Chalvron, Washington bureau chief for the French radio service France 2; but when asked a question in French at an open press conference, Kerry pretended not to be able to understand it, and didn’t give an answer at all. The last thing you want in American politics, apparently, is to be captured on camera understanding French, let alone speaking it. Rush Limbaugh would start portraying you as hardly American at all (he already does this with Kerry, in fact, having heard about these suspicious francophone abilities on the grapevine).

Indeed, it seems that foreign-language teaching was against the law, at least in some states, until those laws were overturned in 1923, in Meyer v. Nebraska.


One Response to “The Kerry’s And Foreign Languages”

  1. Don Macleay says:

    Just reminds me of how I was treated as a teen for speaking French.!

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