Next UN chief stumbles on French language test

15th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 14, 2006 (AFP) - UN Secretary General-designate Ban Ki-moon failed a French language test here Thursday as he was unable to answer a reporter's question as to why French should remain the second working language of the world body after English.

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 14, 2006 (AFP) - UN Secretary General-designate Ban Ki-moon failed a French language test here Thursday as he was unable to answer a reporter's question as to why French should remain the second working language of the world body after English.

Addressing his first press conference since he was sworn in as the next UN chief earlier Thursday, he was asked to respond in French to the question of why the Gallic language should take precedence over the more widely spoken Chinese or Arabic.

The 62-year-old South Korean former foreign minister fumbled a "je n'ai pas pu (I was not able)".

An aide came to his rescue and translated the question, to which Ban replied that the decision to give priority to French was made by UN member states for reasons of "convenience and practicality."

"Each language has equal authenticity," he noted.

The world body has six official languages: English, French, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese and Russian.

By tradition, the UN secretary general is required to have a working knowledge of French.

Ban has been working assiduously on his French since he launched his bid to succeed Kofi Annan early this year. France's UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière certified that Ban's French was adequate.

Ban is to officially take over the reins of the world body on January 1.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article