12 languages you might hear at general conference

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Elder Edward Dube addresses LDS Church members in English at General Conference in October 2013. All speakers will be given the option to speak in their first languages during the upcoming conference. (Screen shot via LDS.org.)

Elder Edward Dube addresses LDS Church members in English at general conference in October 2013. All speakers will be given the option to speak in their first languages during the upcoming conference. (Photo courtesy LDS.org)

LDS Church spokesman Dale Jones announced Monday that general conference speakers “whose primary language is not English now have the choice to deliver their talks in their native tongue.” If speakers elect to do so, English subtitles will be shown in the Conference Center with live English interpretation provided for all English-language broadcasts.

Exactly who will speak in this October’s conference is still a mystery, but at least 12 general authorities and general auxiliary officers speak languages other than English as their first language. Here are 12 languages you might hear in this or future general conferences.

1. Spanish

Besides English, Spanish is the most commonly spoken first language among the general authorities and general officers of the Church. Thirteen members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy speak Spanish, though no current members of other quorums of general auxiliary presidencies do.

2. Portuguese

Though less common, Portuguese is the second-most common foreign language spoken among potential General Conference speakers. If Elder Ulisses Soares (from Brazil), Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis (Brazil), Elder Claudio R. M. Costa (Brazil), Elder Carlos A. Godoy (Brazil), Elder José A. Teixeira (Portugal) or Elder Jairo Mazzagardi (Brazil) speak in October, they may choose to do so in Portuguese.

3. German

Perhaps the most anticipated address will be from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, whose first language is German. If this General Conference follows tradition, President Uchtdorf may speak as many as four times during October’s general conference (including the General Women’s Meeting) and he will have the option to speak in either English or German. Elder Jörg Klebingat (Germany) and Elder Erich W. Kopischke (Germany) may also choose to deliver addresses in German.

4. Japanese

Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Elder Koichi Aoyagi of the Second were both born in Japan and, if they are assigned to speak in general conference, may do so in Japanese.

5. Korean

Elder Yoon Hwan Choi of the First Quorum of the Seventy was born in Seoul, Republic of Korea. He spoke in a recent general conference and so is unlikely to speak in October, but if he does, he may deliver his address in Korean.

6. Shona

Elder Edward Dube of the First Quorum of the Seventy also spoke in a recent general conference, but in the future he will have the option to speak his native language — likely Shona, the native language of Zimbabwe — in future general conference addresses.

7. Swahili

Elder Joseph W. Sitati who, along with Elder Dube, is one of two black Africans among the general authorities, may choose to deliver general conference addresses in his native tongue. This is likely Swahili, the commonly spoken native language of Kenya.

8. Cebuano

Elder Michael John U. Teh spoke in last April’s conference, but in the future may choose to speak in his native language. This is likely Cebuano, the commonly spoken dialect in the region of the Philippines where he grew up.

9. Swedish

Elder Per G. Malm of the Second Quorum of the Seventy is from Jönköping, Sweden, and may give his addresses Swedish.

10. French

Bishop Gérald Caussé, who is from Bordeaux, France, may be assigned to speak and will have the option to do so in French.

11. Cantonese

Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong of the First Quorum of the Seventy was born in Hong Kong and may choose to give an address in either English or Cantonese. As a newly called member of the quorum, he is likely to be assigned to speak in October’s conference.

12. Afrikaans

Elder Christoffel Golden of the First Quorum of the Seventy hails from South Africa and speaks both English and Afrikaans.

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Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.

8 Comments

  1. Gus Reply

    The church is getting more ridiculous by the moment. Thank goodness I can watch conference using my dvr. I can simply fast forward through the foreign language talks and read them in English when the conference issue of the Ensign comes out. Of course, we all know that when we get to “Heaven” we will be speaking Spanish.

    1. Breanna Olaveson Post author Reply

      In case you missed it in the article, there will be “live English interpretation provided for all English-language broadcasts.” If you’re watching anywhere but in the Conference Center, you’ll hear it live in English. Hope that helps!

    2. Wendy Reply

      I hope you would not say it is ridiculous. Delivering a message using your own native tongue will give a special meaning to the people you are addressing to. I hope you would appreciate it. Thanks! ^_^

  2. Clifton Palmer McLendon Reply

    I am fluent only in English, but I know a few words and phrases here and there in several other languages — and I enjoy the sounds of a language well-spoken even when I don’t understand a word of it. I look eagerly forward to Conference!

  3. Maithe Reply

    I am french and so happy to know that, from time to time, I’ll hear my native langage. Sometimes, it’s difficult to hear all talks during all conferences with translators. !

  4. Amelia Reply

    I think Elder Michael John U. Teh may speak in “Tagalog” rather than “Cebuano”. Tagalog is more spoken than Cebuano in the Philippines.

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