Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Pope Francis struggles with English. Here’s how he’ll get his message across in the U.S.

“‘The hardest [language] for me has always been English. Above all, the pronunciation, because I don’t have an ear for it,’ Pope Francis would later tell a biographer.

After three months of studying in Ireland, he never caught on to English — the language he will encounter when he sets foot in the United States for the first time Tuesday.

Until now, it has never been much of an issue.

Although Francis travels with a personal interpreter, the Conference of Catholic Bishops hired CSI Conference Systems to manage more than a dozen intrepreters for the trip. When the pope speaks at large events such as the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday, real-time translations will appear on large screens. In some smaller settings, participants will be able to hear an interpreter through individual headsets. TV audiences will hear real-time interpretation or see captioning.”

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Languages do matter!

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