Recently, the American president spoke on the phone with leaders from around the world. Some are from English-speaking countries, but many are not, including Vladimir Putin. For such important and strategic negotiations, a human translator being present does not seem the most reliable - or convenient.

What is the international standard for making these calls - who must learn what language, or otherwise what procedures occur, to allow direct phone negotiations to take place?

  • 1
    Great question. I don't know the answer but will be interested to see what others say.
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 4, 2017 at 17:04

1 Answer 1


Phone calls between world leaders are much more complicated and are thoroughly planned. It's not one would imagine -- pick up a phone and say Hi President Putin! I'm Trump and I would like to talk to you!.

In order to overcome language barriers, they have human interpreters and aides to assist them.

This article by the BBC that I came across describes this process:

World leaders usually have various people listening in on their conversations, including aides and interpreters.

Even when leaders speak another language fluently, they often choose to conduct official calls in their mother tongue.

"Sometimes that is down to national pride, but it's also to avoid misunderstandings and protect nuance," says Kevin Hendzel, a former White House linguist.

This article by The Guardian introduces 3 translators and their experiences.

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