Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

10 Things You May Not Know About Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (She was fluent in French, Spanish, and Italian)

“Onassis was a lifelong student of foreign cultures, and became fluent in French, Spanish and Italian during her school days and European travels. Her facility with languages often proved a valuable asset to her husband’s political career. She translated French books on Southeast Asia for Kennedy when he was still in the senate, and later wowed campaign audiences by speaking French to voters in Louisiana and Spanish in Texas. Following a 1961 visit to France, where Onassis won over the public with her ability to speak the local tongue, her husband jokingly introduced himself as “the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris.” President Lyndon Johnson—no doubt conscious of her fluency in Spanish—later considered making her the U.S. ambassador to Mexico.”

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Languages do matter!

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