Text in English Languages and politicians

The most important issue with our politicians is, essentially, the distance between truth an lie. But there are secondary sides of being a good politician. Probably among them we could mention culture, general knowledge. Our leaders do not have to be academics, but some of them could have, at least, a solid background. Sadly enough, this does not happen so often.

Of course, speaking foreign languages is not mandatory in itself. We could think that any high-level Spanish politician should be able to communicate fluently in English, but actually not so many British politicians speak Spanish, so I think that is not the point. I would be glad that they were able to speak properly in Spanish -they usually are not. But one may think that, statistically, the smarter guys would be the ones to reach that position.

However, it's better to accept the sad truth. You could hear Aznar giving a speech at Georgetown University (!) and feel embarrassed for him. You can hear more recent speeches of Aznar, and although they are better, that very fact is even more disappointing. Current president Zapatero does not go much further, actually. He simply avoids speaking in English (I suppose he can't); shutting up is a reasonable position indeed, which many of his colleagues should practice every day (I mean, even in Spanish). Considering how he speaks in French, avoiding us a new embarrassment is something we have to feel grateful for.

I am not a great supporter of Toni Blair and his collaboration to Bush crimes, but even not being an English native speaker myself, I can notice that he is more than just a decent speaker (his English sounds really well) and I appreciate that. And when I heard Blair speaking in a perfect French, I had, at least, to respect him a bit more. I've heard Villepin speaking in both Spanish and English, or Juan Fernando López Aguilar in English, or Durao Barroso in Spanish (and I suppose he can speak other languages as well).

Even for being a murderer you have to be, at least, professional, and reach the minimum quality standards; the same applies for being a politician. Or both things at once, in some cases. Meanwhile, in Spain we keep envying other countries' Prime Ministers. Sure, they are not that better at making decisions or telling the trutg (hah!) But, at least, they behave... professionally.

3 comentarios:

boronat dijo...

Hi teach!

Disagree: In the UK almost nobody speaks any other language, so the politicians don't have to, either. After all, English is spoken all over the world, why should the care? a friend of mine is polish, but lived all his life in England. When their friends heard him speaking polish they were looking at him with strange faces.

In Spain there is a difference: we MUST speak english if we want to talk to anybody who is not ourselves. So our politicians, who need to be continously thinking in a european or global point of view, HAVE TO speak languages, at least English, desirable French and German.

But, do we speak languages ourselves? (apart from this multilingual weblog) Not really: politicians are just mirroring society.

When you meet some nordic guy, you are amazed at how easy they change from their mother tongue to english, and they speak between themselves in english. We should achieve that level, and so should our politicians.

Guti dijo...

It's rather strange, since you disagree with me, but I, in turn, agree with you :-)

I just wanted to point out that, from a purely political or institutional point of view, every country is the same as its peers, and we are all equally important. So Zapatero or Aznar, when acting officially as presidents, don't need to speak in English. However, that's for sure, in practice not every country is equally "important", and our leaders should speak at least 3 languages in total, even if it's just for the sake of general knowledge or culture.

By the way, I suppose that you are talking about European Union when you say that Spanish is only useful inside Spain. If not, I'd like to point out that Spanish can be used to talk to roughly half of the world (well, not that much, but you know what I mean; I'm pretty sure you have not forgotten Central and South America).

boronat dijo...

yep, I was letting aside the spanish spoken in america (millions of speakers more than ourselves), but it was on purpose, I had the European Union in mind. otherwise... who would want to learn German? ;)

living in brussels makes one too much euro-centered...