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.
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
Yes, our former PM FJS, he was a great linguist who spoke many languages, even
Maybe so, but nowadays Latin is no longer spoken by anybody.
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.
You are having me on.
Have you forgotten our Pope Benedikt number 16?
You’ve got a point there, but what about Bavarians speaking English.
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.
And you, yourself, Prime Minister, do you speak English.
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.
Sorry, I don’t understand.
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.
well, quite right, who indeed? The less said the better.
Finally, Mr Seehofer what’s your comment on the disaster surrounding the
Bavarian Landes Bank?
Let me just say: I glaab ma soit an Oachkatzelschwoaf mit an Leffi voi Vitrioioi
But that’s nonsense.
Thank you for talking to us.
Thank you and servus.
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