BBC World Service: People and Politics                                                           2 February 2010

Today, we’ll be talking to the Prime Minister of Bavaria. Mr Seehofer, your opposite number in Suebia, Gunter Oettinger caused quite a stir with his hilarious Suebian version of English. Particularly, as Mr Oettinger is the EU’s Commissioner designate for Energy. So what’s the role foreign language teaching plays in your country.

See: Well, we in Bavaria can speak foreign languages a lot better than Oettinger and most Suebians because we have the best school system in Germany, if not in the world.

BBC: Really?

See: Yes, our former PM FJS, he was a great linguist who spoke many languages, even Latin.

BBC: Maybe so, but nowadays Latin is no longer spoken by anybody.

See: That’s where you are wrong. Another Bavarian who speaks Latin and who is even more important than FJS ever was also speaks Latin. A man who rules over more than a billion people.

BBC: You are having me on.

See: Have you forgotten our Pope Benedikt number 16?

BBC: You’ve got a point there, but what about Bavarians speaking English.

See: There are two outstanding Bavarian sportsmen, Franz Beckenbauer and Lothar Matthäus. Both are such impressive speakers that their linguistic performances are very popular on the internet.

BBC: And you, yourself, Prime Minister, do you speak English.

See: Well, not really. I use my mother tongue, which is Bavarian, and rely on my interpreter when I give press conferences or travel abroad. But I can manage, like I’m doing now with you. And there is one point which I think people tend to forget. Barrack Obama in the USA and Gordon Brown in Great Britain speak English as their mother tongue and they don’t take the trouble to learn foreign languages, like we do in Bavaria. When I was German minister of Agriculture I had to attend many late-night meetings in Brussels and words like Milch and milk or Butter and butter are so similar that I had no problems. When things got really tricky – often well past midnight when everybody was tired – and I was asked my opinion on something I used a trick – which I learned from Franz Josef Strauß – I just said: I glaab ma soit an Oachkatzlschwoaf mit an Leffi voi Vitrioioi eiön.

BBC: Sorry, I don’t understand.

See: That’s the beauty of it. No one understood what I was saying, but the others didn’t want to admit that and agreed to what I had intended all along. Now as Prime Minister of Bavaria I no longer have to go to midnight-sessions in Brussels. I leave that to Mr Oettinger and also to my pre-predecessor Mr. Stoiber.

BBC: Who?

See: well, quite right, who indeed? The less said the better.

BBC: Finally, Mr Seehofer what’s your comment on the disaster surrounding the Bavarian Landes Bank?

See: Let me just say: I glaab ma soit an Oachkatzelschwoaf mit an Leffi voi Vitrioioi eiön.

BBC: But that’s nonsense.

See: Exactly.

BBC: Thank you for talking to us.

See: Thank you and servus.  

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