Sierra Leone

How to Talk to Diplomats

When I was in journalism school, I had an internship with a wire service covering UN headquarters. I was, at best, unremarkable at this, and I was constantly confounded by the quasi-English being used around me.

A world body of 177 countries, which represent considerably more native tongues, and a choice of five official languages, and yet every single diplomat I ever came across seemed to know how to use the nuances of English to craft a sentence that meant nothing at all, and sometimes, the exact opposite of what you thought they were saying.