Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Reporter’s notebook: The pope’s speechwriter, the pope’s translator, a press corps roadblock

“There is a priest who stays at Pope Francis’ side almost all the time in the United States and translates for him.

His name is Msgr. Mark Miles, and he’s an official of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. He’s originally from Gibraltar, the British territory south of Spain. His native language is a heavily accented British English. His second language is Spanish.

Francis has said he’s not comfortable speaking in a language other than Spanish or Italian. So he usually turns to Miles, 48, to transmit his message to English speakers.

Of course, Francis often goes off his prepared homilies and speeches, so Miles has to be fast on his feet. That’s especially challenging because Francis often uses Argentine idiomatic expressions that even some native Spanish speakers from other countries wouldn’t know.”

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Languages do matter!


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