The Atlantic

Pete Buttigieg’s Language Magic Is Textbook Polyglot Mythmaking

American culture is far from the first to glorify people who speak several languages.
Source: Brian Synder / Reuters

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a Democratic presidential candidate, has become famous for speaking lots of languages. Depending on the day and the media outlet, the number rises and falls. He’s been granted six languages, seven languages, and eight languages. After the fire at Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral, he dipped into French to answer questions from French media. He fielded questions from Norwegian journalists in Norwegian, which he’s said to have taught himself in order to read novels in the language.

While speaking so many languages may be rare among the American public, Buttigieg’s ascent is a textbook polyglot path to fame. An aura tends

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic3 min readSociety
Read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Testimony on Reparations
“The question really is not whether we’ll be tied to the somethings of our past, but whether we are courageous enough to be tied to the whole of them.”
The Atlantic7 min readSociety
The Methadone Theory of Political Islam
If you administer a milder form of Sharia, you might satisfy an appetite that could otherwise lead to a more sinister form of it.
The Atlantic16 min read
The Tree With Matchmaking Powers
For nearly a century, an oak in a German forest has helped lonely people find love—including the mailman who delivers its letters.