It is one of those observations that confirms many a true word is spoken in jest: that all too many English people believe that they can best make themselves understood by those who don’t speak their language by speaking English very slowly and very loudly. They therefore have no need to bother learning another language.
Don't we know who he is? Unfortunately, yes we do
Coupled with the slightly paranoid belief that those who speak another language only do so in order to say things about the English without them understanding, and you have the mindset of all too many people, whose number it seems includes former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan. The Monday to Wednesday co-host of Good Morning Britain has found his latest attempt at social climbing foiled - because he doesn’t speak Spanish.
After English, Arabic and French, Spanish (also called Castilian Spanish of Castellano), is one of the world’s most widely-spoken tongues, and the de facto language of 31 countries, including many in Central and South America. This was brought home to Morgan when he fetched up, bad penny style, at Tate Modern for the GQ Men of the Year awards.
The Great Man shared a table with Arsenal footballer Héctor Bellerin, who is Spanish. But when fellow Arsenal fan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - whose wife in Mexican and who therefore speaks fluent Spanish - came over to chat to Bellerin, and did so in a language Morgan could not understand, he was deeply miffed.
“Later, fellow Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn came over to speak to him. When I tried to interrupt, the Labour leader … promptly switched to fluent Spanish to shut me out of the conversation” he whined in his Mail Online diary, in which he drops lots of names in order to tell readers about the importance of Himself Personally Now.
The idea that Corbyn and Bellerin had conversed in Spanish not because they didn’t want Morgan to understand, but because Jezza was being courteous and putting the player at his ease, does not appear to have entered. But the opportunity for both men to wind up the appallingly self-important mouth artist was too much for them to let slip.
And so it came to pass that after Bellerin was alerted to Morgan’s whining, he Tweeted “Come on mate, don't take it personally”. Then Corbyn identified the opportunity to troll the self-promotion artist by switching to Spanish. “Fue un placer conocerte. Es mejor que no le digamos de lo que estábamos hablando, no lo entendería. Muy buen juego en el partido el domingo” he replied. Bellerin took the hint immediately.
“Muchas gracias señor Corbyn y por supuesto, todo queda entre nosotros! Fue un placer conocerle!” he chipped in. Rachel Swindon compounded Morgan’s misery by taking the opportunity to add “para muchos, no para los pocos - Señor Jezza”.
That last one means “for the many, not the few”. As for Piers Morgan, no, I’m not translating the other Tweets - do it yourself or enrol in a Spanish class. This will banish the twin evils of ignorance and paranoia simultaneously. Then get a life.