Russian Federation President Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin possesses some amazing language skills for the leader of a world power. In this video of a town-hall style discussion, he jumps in on the interpreter and does it himself.
We all know he spent a good portion of his career in Germany, which explains his very strong German skills.
But let’s think of it this way. When Mark Zuckerberg addressed a Chinese university audience in Mandarin in 2014, the audience literally responded with Oos and Ahs.
(I was disappointed that President Obama spoke so little Bahasa Indonesia after living there as a boy. He got Zuckerberg-style applause.)
Mr. Putin also gives speeches in English, but I don’t hear anyone Oo or Ah.
Why this contrast? Because Americans don’t learn foreign languages to a professional level. A Russian leader is trilingual, and gets modest applause. An internationally-renowned American CEO speaks modest Mandarin and receives great accolades.
Now we have a president who has shown no interest in foreign languages, for himself or for anyone else.
Mr. Putin possesses a clear advantage over President-Elect Trump. When one knows foreign languages, one has insight into other peoples, countries, and cultures.
Who needs this sort of insight more than a powerful world leader?
Languages at the top of power