I found a rather apologetic essay by Thomas Mann the other day where he says he is not a polyglot. What threw me when first reading it was the ambiguous German expression "nichts weniger als" which can mean two diametrically opposite things: a) "nothing less than"; b) "anything but".
When I however decided that it was the second of these meanings he meant, I read the rest of the essay. I shall summarise it in due course. It is too late in the night now.