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  #81  
Old 01-13-2015, 01:20 PM
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Increasing numbers of people from around the world speak English. I hate to put it like this, but IMO, in today's world, French, Spanish or German are hardly relevant to most British people.

It was certainly a class thing for the Queen's generation, and your ability to speak multiple languages was viewed as being an obvious sign of a good education, but things have clearly, IMO, moved on from there.

If anything, perhaps, the younger royals can learn Mandarin and Hindi. They will probably have more subjects that speak Hindi than French.
I'm not saying that Spanish or German are important for the British royals. But as long as Canada is part of the Commonwealth, French is important imo. It is an offical language there and a considerable part of the population is francophone.
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  #82  
Old 01-13-2015, 01:36 PM
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It was certainly a class thing for the Queen's generation, and your ability to speak multiple languages was viewed as being an obvious sign of a good education, but things have clearly, IMO, moved on from there.
It's something more than just a good class to know how to speak and read in a number of languages. it's still part of a proper, extended education and some sort of preparedness to be a concious citizen of the world. It's like a whole new world is open to you when you learn a foreign language. And we do expect from royals, at least those who are in some way official and who are going to represent their people on the international stage, to be well-prepared for their job.
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  #83  
Old 01-13-2015, 02:28 PM
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It's like a whole new world is open to you when you learn a foreign language. And we do expect from royals, at least those who are in some way official and who are going to represent their people on the international stage, to be well-prepared for their job.
If English is not your first language, I think a whole new world does open to you when you learn it, or any other language for that matter. IMO, it is less of an issue when English is your first language. Any other language you learn will only be spoken by a relatively small number of people you will ever come across.
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  #84  
Old 01-13-2015, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by muriel View Post
If English is not your first language, I think a whole new world does open to you when you learn it, or any other language for that matter. IMO, it is less of an issue when English is your first language. Any other language you learn will only be spoken by a relatively small number of people you will ever come across.
Spanish is spoken by the entire continent of South America with the exception of Brazil. It is also spoken by the populations of Central America and a large number of the population of the USA.

In the UK there are a large number of people who converse primarily in Hindi, Urdu and the other languages of Indian sub-continent. As the world political map changes, the UK is more and more dependent on building strong relationships the Arabic speaking world.

As future King, I think it would be nice for Charles and William to make the occasional attempt at Welsh, Erse and Gaelic.

English might be the only language necessary for a British monarch to speak but I don't think it shouldn't prevent an attempt to learn a bit of another language. Look what an impression the Queen made by taking the trouble to put just one phrase in Gaelic into her speech at the state banquet in Dublin.
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  #85  
Old 01-13-2015, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Tilia C. View Post
I'm not saying that Spanish or German are important for the British royals. But as long as Canada is part of the Commonwealth, French is important imo. It is an offical language there and a considerable part of the population is francophone.

That would depend on your definition of considerable.

Over 85% of Canadians have a working knowledge of English, with it being the first language for 56.9% of Canadians. In contrast, only 30.1% of Canadians have a working knowledge of French, with 21.3% of the population having French as their first language. Only about 6.8 million Canadians speak French at home, 91.5% of whom live in Quebec. In contrast, 21.5 million Canadians speak English at home.

While you can argue in favour of the Canadian Royal family, particularly the direct line, knowing French owing to it's status as an official language, I wouldn't say it's necessarily more important than the direct line of the British Royal family knowing Welsh or either form of Gaelic.
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  #86  
Old 01-14-2015, 03:00 AM
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Ish and Muriel Your opinion is very Anglocentric. It's quite irrogant to think that the world ends with English and just because many people with whom the Royals have contact speak this lingua franca of today's world, they don't need to make any more effort to understand them and to truly communicate with them in a most natural way. It's like, according to popular beliefs, the French people's view of their own language and their attitude towards learning foreign languages.

IMO it is desirable for a Royal with a big future role to play to learn a variety of the world's languages and especially those which are close in some way to his or her people. I would expect that also from a top politician who represents my country abroad, like the President, Prime Minister or Foreign Minister.
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  #87  
Old 01-14-2015, 03:18 AM
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There are various degrees of knowing a language.

Fluent speaking and reading a language
Fluent speaking and but not able to read the language.
Fluent reading a language but not fluent in speaking the language.
Able to understand the language but not able to speak the language.
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  #88  
Old 01-14-2015, 03:24 AM
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I think it more a generation thing.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was fluent in French and spoke the language without an accent.

Queen Elizabeth II is fluent in French but speaks with an accent.

Prince Charles' French is fluent but not to the degree of his mother.

Prince William's French is basic.

Princess Anne took French class during the 1960s.

Several member of the BRF may speak and understand French but are not fluent. Fluency comes with using a language. If you do not use it, you lose it.
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  #89  
Old 01-14-2015, 03:42 AM
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Didn't the Duchess of Cambridge spend quite a bit of time in Italy studying art? If so, perhaps she speaks Italian.


I have to agree with some commenters who don't think it necessary for English-speaking heads of state to speak a language other than English. I've never known an American president who spoke anything but English. Back in the 60s, Jackie Kennedy spoke fluent French and Spanish and the exiled Cubans were thrilled when she spoke to them in Spanish. Of course, Jackie was of French decent and was very proud of that. She also spoke Italian, I believe. JFK could only speak English and they were both from very wealthy background. Since then, I don't recall any President or First Lady speaking a foreign language. True, we have many Spanish-speaking people in the U.S. and there are now signs in Spanish and English, but overall, in order to get a good job, you had better learn English and all of the younger people who come here do learn.


As mentioned, English is the lingua franca for diplomacy and business so, while it would be nice if a head of state spoke more languages, we can just leave the translations to the translators.
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  #90  
Old 01-14-2015, 04:56 AM
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@Muriel I m not stuck in French. I was talking about any foreign language. If the young British Royal out if their English could speak Arabic or mandarin or Hindi or Russian rather than French or German cudos to them. The problem is that they do not seem to speak any other language.
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  #91  
Old 01-14-2015, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by muriel View Post
If English is not your first language, I think a whole new world does open to you when you learn it, or any other language for that matter. IMO, it is less of an issue when English is your first language. Any other language you learn will only be spoken by a relatively small number of people you will ever come across.
I think I have to disagree. Spanish or French are spoken by as many as a quarter of the population of the planet as the primary language. That is far from a small number of people.

English is of course my native language, but when I learned to read French it did indeed open a new world for me. I am now able to appreciate to works of great French writers in the original language. It's of course possible to read Dumas or Flaubert or Victor Hugo in English, but there is nothing to compare with reading the classics in their original language.

Learning another language-Spanish, Russian, Italian, French, or German-does open up new intellectual and cultural vistas for a native English speaker. For someone with the resources and opportunities of the British Royal Family there is simply no excuse not to, imo.

BTW, it's not true that no American head of state has had competency in other languages. Thomas Jefferson and most of the first 10-13 presidents were multi-lingual, several in classical Greek and Latin. Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt spoke at least four, and his cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt could read French. JFK could not speak French as fluently as his wife could, but could read basic French. He learned at boarding school or perhaps at Harvard.


And even George W. Bush can handle himself in Spanish.
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  #92  
Old 01-14-2015, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Moonmaiden23 View Post
I think I have to disagree. Spanish or French are spoken by as many as a quarter of the population of the planet as the primary language. That is far from a small number of people.

English is of course my native language, but when I learned to read French it did indeed open a new world for me. I am now able to appreciate to works of great French writers in the original language. It's of course possible to read Dumas or Flaubert or Victor Hugo in English, but there is nothing to compare with reading the classics in their original language.

Learning another language-Spanish, Russian, Italian, French, or German-does indeed open up new intellectual and cultural vistas for a native English speaker. For someone with the resources and opportunities of the British Royal Family there is simply no excuse not to, imo.

BTW, it's not true that no American head of state has had competency in other languages. Thomas Jefferson and most of the first 10-13 presidents were multi-lingual, several in classical Greek and Latin. Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt spoke at least four, and his cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt could read French. JFK could not speak French as fluently as his wife could, but could read basic French. He learned at boarding school or perhaps at Harvard.


And even George W. Bush can handle himself in Spanish.
Our most intelligent President, James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with his other hand at the same time! The wonders of being ambidextrous.

I agree with Queen Camilla that there are different types of fluency. Back in my school days I could read French but I couldn't speak it to save my life. I used to drive my French teacher crazy because I would score the best in the class at reading comprehension but I would get one of the worst scores in oral comprehension.
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  #93  
Old 01-15-2015, 12:10 AM
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miss whirley-

When I read that about President Garfield I couldn't believe it. Imagine!

I am the same as you when it comes to French. I can read fairly fluently, and instructors always said my accent was close to perfect. But I cannot carry on a conversation to save my life. Probably because I don't have the opportunity to use the language in everyday conversation.
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  #94  
Old 01-15-2015, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by miss whirley View Post
Our most intelligent President, James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with his other hand at the same time! The wonders of being ambidextrous.

I agree with Queen Camilla that there are different types of fluency. Back in my school days I could read French but I couldn't speak it to save my life. I used to drive my French teacher crazy because I would score the best in the class at reading comprehension but I would get one of the worst scores in oral comprehension.
Wow, how amazing. The closest I've come to seeing that is my Spanish teacher writing two different sentences at the same time at the board. She was born left handed but where she grew up you had to write with your right hand so now she can do both. It was REALLY hard trying to keep up and take notes :P

Back to the subject. I also think it is important to address the different levels and ways you can know a language. Just because you read french in school doesn't mean you know it. And having lived in a country for a short while might make you fluent in speaking but not writing and so on.
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  #95  
Old 01-15-2015, 09:49 AM
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Didn't the Duchess of Cambridge spend quite a bit of time in Italy studying art? If so, perhaps she speaks Italian.


I have to agree with some commenters who don't think it necessary for English-speaking heads of state to speak a language other than English. I've never known an American president who spoke anything but English. Back in the 60s, Jackie Kennedy spoke fluent French and Spanish and the exiled Cubans were thrilled when she spoke to them in Spanish. Of course, Jackie was of French decent and was very proud of that. She also spoke Italian, I believe. JFK could only speak English and they were both from very wealthy background. Since then, I don't recall any President or First Lady speaking a foreign language. True, we have many Spanish-speaking people in the U.S. and there are now signs in Spanish and English, but overall, in order to get a good job, you had better learn English and all of the younger people who come here do learn.


As mentioned, English is the lingua franca for diplomacy and business so, while it would be nice if a head of state spoke more languages, we can just leave the translations to the translators.
Actually, at least half of all U.S. presidents spoke at least one foreign language. One president, Martin Van Buren spoke English as a second language. Although born in the U.S., his native tongue was Dutch. So that shoots your statement in the foot.

I used to work for a gigantic Swiss bank and in order to work for them anywhere in the world, you had to speak English.

Foreign languages used to be fun, but now, like most other learning objectives, study has fallen by the wayside.


Until recently (20 years ago), every major U.S. institution of higher learning required a passing grade in one foreign language or another. Now one has to attend college to get a high school education.
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  #96  
Old 01-15-2015, 10:19 AM
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Actually, at least half of all U.S. presidents spoke at least one foreign language. One president, Martin Van Buren spoke English as a second language. Although born in the U.S., his native tongue was Dutch. So that shoots your statement in the foot.

Um, wasn't the poster talking about presidents in recent memory?
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  #97  
Old 01-15-2015, 01:57 PM
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Until recently (20 years ago), every major U.S. institution of higher learning required a passing grade in one foreign language or another. Now one has to attend college to get a high school education.
Are foreign languages not required in all US high schools anymore? I've graduated within the past 20 years, and it was certainly a requirement at my school (though I went to private school. However, everyone else I know who's my age also took a foreign language in high school, regardless of where they're from or whether they went to public or private schools. I assumed it was still required).

Of course, even if people do study a foreign language in school (which I do think should be a requirement), that's not guarantee they're going to remember much, if any, of it once they graduate. Especially with people for whom English is their native language, there might not be many situations in which they find themselves needing to use any other language.
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  #98  
Old 01-15-2015, 02:03 PM
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@Muriel I m not stuck in French. I was talking about any foreign language. If the young British Royal out if their English could speak Arabic or mandarin or Hindi or Russian rather than French or German cudos to them. The problem is that they do not seem to speak any other language.
I suspect it is George's generation that may need to think of learning Mandarin, Hindi or Gujarati. As of now, English very much remains the lingua-franca.

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I think I have to disagree. Spanish or French are spoken by as many as a quarter of the population of the planet as the primary language. That is far from a small number of people.
But how many of those are likely to be subject of the Windsors?
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Old 01-15-2015, 02:37 PM
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But why should it matter whether or not they are subjects of the Windsors? The ability to express oneself in more than one's native language is quite simply a sign of a well-rounded, well-educated person. Especially for a man or woman representing an ancient monarchy on the world stage.

Most if not all of the world's royal families are able to do this. The fact that the Windsors have produced what is perhaps first and only generation of royals who cannot is puzzling. Especially bringing into account the fact that their fans insist that they are the gold standard of royal dynasties.
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  #100  
Old 09-16-2016, 06:41 PM
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Perhaps they go by the dictum of George V....
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