Monday, April 16, 2012

More language and politics ... "he speaks French too"

We started talking about language and politics in the upcoming elections a while back (like here on the English Only leanings of the Republican presidential candidates) and our last post was about a smart point about language and national security by Russ Feingold.

But in correspondence with a regular reader (tip of the big old straw hat to Prof. R!), this video on Romney came up:

The video had made a splash back in the winter. Up to about the 50-sec. mark, it's standard attack ad stuff, but then, the hammer: "he speaks French". "Just like John Kerry".

Want evidence that he can read a prepared text in French before a rolling camera? Then check this out:

I'll leave it to you to determine whether that counts as 'speaking French', but it's depressing to even make jokes (hey, I'm an optimist) about this stuff in attack ads.


Anonymous said...

I'm not an American but isn't it illegal to run for public office there if you speak another language fluently? I seem to recall something like that.

Jonathon said...

Not illegal at all, as far as I know. There are some municipalities that may have laws requiring sufficient fluency in English, but I've never heard of a law forbidding someone from serving if they speak a second language. I doubt such a law would be constitutional.

Sadly, any stigma against speaking a foreign language in the US is purely social.

Alex Rudnick said...

I'm pretty sure his French accent is better than mine. (Francophones: that's pretty passable, innit?)