If Garcetti had been speaking French on a diplomatic mission to Paris, he might have been harangued — or even hanged — for his errors. But Mexicans tend not to be such purists, and they have built up decades of tolerance for visitors from El Norte mangling their mother tongue.

From the dingy basement of a decaying apartment block on the outskirts of Simferopol, Crimean parliament deputy Sergei Shuvainikov is leading the fight to defend the ethnic Russians of this strategic Black Sea peninsula. In an office festooned with banners showing a map of Crimea overlaid with a World War II medal featuring the communist hammer and sickle and the slogan "In union with Russia," the voluble Shuvainikov spills out a litany of alleged assaults on the Russian language and Russian culture in Ukraine.

Many objected when Secretary of State John Kerry referred to Latin America as "the backyard" of the United States last April. While his statement may have been intended as an innocuous comment on geography, the implications of his words represent an all too common attitude about our Southerly neighbors that is not only ignorant, but often inaccurate. 

The Knesset Education Committee said Tuesday it vehemently opposes a recent push to establish English-language degree programs in law, saying such studies could undermine the place of Hebrew in Israeli society and facilitate emigration. Mks said they would only allow English-language law programs that cater exclusively to foreign students.

Much news in the press about recent ambassadorial nominees who haven't been to the country where they were selected to serve (see also the hilarious satirical video and the excellent piece by Ambassador Robert J. Callahan, "Plum posts if you can afford them: End the auction of ambassadorships").

Not too long ago I was standing in line in a holiday resort in the Dominican Republic when a man in front of me bellowed at his son: “Yuval, atah honek et ha-tur” [“Yuval, you’re holding up the line.”] Most American Jews have been here before: We overhear Hebrew, we discover a surreptitious Israeli in our midst, the Diaspora Jew’s sense of kinship is triggered.

In the fugue of tongues on New York’s streets, French has never been a dominant voice. And as surging numbers of Asian and Latino immigrants continue to tip the balance of foreign languages toward Chinese and Spanish, the idea of learning French, to some, may seem kind of quaint, even anachronistic.

One hundred years ago, in 1913, the Jewish community in Palestine was roiled by controversy, set off when the German aid organization Ezra began work in Haifa on the Yishuv’s first institution of higher education, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The Board of Governors decided that German would be the main language of instruction. In response, some teachers said they would refuse to teach and students walked out of their classes. The Board of Governors eventually backed down, and Hebrew became the sole language of instruction.