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

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