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Polyglot Popes: What languages does the Pope speak?


Hello everyone. Welcome to the Langfocus channel
and my name is Paul. What languages does the Pope speak?
I want to talk about polyglot Popes. When you think of the Pope, you might think
of a very Holy person, a religious person, someone who sits around praying all day
or something like that. But think about it, to be the leader of a huge organization
like the Catholic Church, you have to be a very
success-minded, driven and accomplished individual. So let’s look at a few recent Popes
and see where they rate on the polyglot scale. First, let’s talk about the current Pope.
Pope Francis who became the Pope in 2013. He is originally from Argentina and he speaks
Spanish, fluently as his native language. He also speaks Italian fluently, he learned Italian
as a kid when he was in Argentina from his father
and his grandparents who were Italian immigrants. And early on, when he became the Pope,
at the beginning, he would only speak Italian in public
for the media or in front of audiences. Italian is the lingua franca of the Vatican and it’s
the most commonly spoken language in the Vatican. And also he is the Archbishop of Rome. So it makes sense that he would speak Italian,
the language of his own locality. I’ve also heard reports from Brazilian people
that, when Pope Francis visited Brazil,
he spoke fluently in Portuguese. Although, with a heavy Argentinian accent. And apparently, the Pope speaks also German
and French, but is getting rusty due to a lack of use. Pope Francis also admits that he’s had
quite a hard time learning English, in large part due to English phonology
which he finds hard. During a three month stay in Ireland, when
he tried to learn English, he had some trouble Although I must say I can’t blame him for being
confused by the Irish people’s funny pronunciation. Sorry Irish people, just kidding. After being the Pope for a little over a year, Pope Francis
spoke English in public for the first time in Seoul, Korea. Are you ready to say yes? – Are you ready?
– [from the crowd] Yeah. So clearly Pope Francis is working on his English
and he’s improving it to be able to do his duties
better around the world. Of course, he also knows Latin which is used for ceremonial
purposes and for official documents in the Vatican. Part of his studies was also to learn biblical Hebrew
and biblical Greek which are necessary for bible study. So Pope Francis speaks Spanish, Italian, Portuguese,
some German, some French, some English
and three literary languages. For a total polyglot score of 6 out of 10. That’s pretty darn good by the way but he’s up against
some stiff competition, so I can’t give him 10 / 10. Next is Pope Benedict XVI who was the Pope
from 2005 until 2013 when he resigned. He is known for being more of a legitimate polyglot
than Pope Francis. His native language is German that he is also known
to fluently speak Italian, French, English and Spanish. I’ve also read reports that he speaks Portuguese,
but not totally fluently. But he’s very good at Latin and used Latin more
than Pope Francis currently does as Pope. And, of course, he can also read biblical Hebrew and
biblical Greek but, again, they’re not spoken languages.
Those are just classical written languages. Pope Benedict made waves in 2013 when he resigned
as the Pope which is almost completely unheard of. And he made waves partly because
his announcement was in Latin. The reporter who broke the story to the world ended up
being the only reporter in the Vatican press office who
could understand the original report in Latin. So let’s recap for Pope Benedict XVI: he speaks German,
Italian, Spanish, French and English fluently. He also speaks some Portuguese and he speaks Latin and
he knows to literary languages, Greek and Biblical Hebrew. For a total polyglot score of 7 out of 10. But the king of polyglot popes is, without a doubt,
Pope John-Paul II, who was the Pope
from 1978 until his death in 2005. Pope John-Paul II was originally from Poland,
so his native language was Polish. But he was also fluent in Italian, Spanish,
Portuguese, French and English. As well as Latin of course. Pope John-Paul II is
also known for having a good working knowledge
of some other languages. At least, enough to speak publicly
in those languages, with some preparation. Those languages include Slovak, Russian, Ukrainian,
Japanese, Tagalog, among many others. At the end of one Easter Mass, he once gave
an Easter greeting in 57 different languages! Maybe he loved language is so much,
because he was also an avid traveler. He visited 129 different countries,
which is more than any other Pope in history. So to recap, Pope John-Paul II was fluent in: Polish, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French,
English and German. And Latin. And he knew a whole bunch of other languages,
better than most language dabblers out there. So he gets a total polyglot score of 10 out of 10. Whether you’re a Catholic or not,
Pope John-Paul II was clearly an inspiring polyglot. And, as language lovers, we can look up to
and admire that aspect of his life and his work. Thank you for watching the Langfocus channel.
Have a good night.

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