This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

General discussion about learning languages
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smallwhite
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Re: This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

Postby smallwhite » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:29 am

Can't blame them, then, given our forum name.
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Re: This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

Postby Cavesa » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:24 am

smallwhite wrote:Can't blame them, then, given our forum name.


I don't think anyone is blaming them, it is just curiosity.

I simply think that "a standard htlaler" and "a standard translator" don't have that much in common.

In case of this admirable man with 32 languages, it is different. He is interested in a lot of things like us, and uses similar methods, it seems. But he is already the Master of Language Learning, no need for him to google it and find our forum. He is not missing out on anything.
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Re: This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

Postby reineke » Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:52 pm

Stefan wrote:Summary

He learned several languages as a kid by using tutors. Besides his native Greek, they mention tutors for English, German and Turkish. There between he learned Italian with "Teach Yourself Italian" and Russian/Arabic (no info). Once he reached University they mention more languages he learned without going into how.

At the end, the writer asks him for methods:

I asked him to recommend a method for someone learning a new language. He described a three-stage process that requires 15 minutes of study, six or seven days a week. First, you would assimilate the basic grammar, vocabulary and alphabet by using online aids, such as YouTube video tutorials and textbooks and CDs. (Linguaphone, Teach Yourself, Colloquial and Assimil are among his favourite “traditional” methods.)

The second step he called “taking the plunge”. Here you start to read newspapers on the web and watch news broadcasts. At first, you may understand only 10 per cent of what is being said.

“Don’t give up. Read, listen. Talk to people on Skype,” he said. “Expose yourself to language. You need self-discipline and persistence if there’s no private teacher. By being in constant contact with language, you tame it, like a wild horse, and become the master of that horse.”

The third and final step is achieving basic fluency, which requires going “far beyond the grammar and syntax and irregular verbs that are only 20 or 30 per cent of language”. At this point you eat the country’s food, watch its television programmes and films, listen to its music and read its literature. Learning about the history of the nation and language will also help. If possible, you should travel to the country. “Make friends with people who do not speak a word of English,” Ikonomou said.

And keep up those friendships. It was 10.30pm when I left his apartment but he was not ready to go to sleep. Mexican taxi drivers, Chinese students and friends he had met on his travels were logged on to Facebook, ready to chat.

They also mention how to keep the language once you learn it:

This involves reading extensively; his living room is filled with scores of dictionaries, textbooks and novels. He also watches a lot of foreign television, from Russian talk shows to Turkish movies, and converses with people on the internet.


Thanks, Stefan.
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Re: This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

Postby smallwhite » Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:49 pm

> This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

With 32 languages, I wonder if it's harder to learn a new one or not to mix up the old ones.
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Re: This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

Postby tarvos » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:25 pm

Honestly, you're always going to mix up a little bit. The disadvantage of messing some stuff up is more than outweighed by all the cognates you get. The truth is that I got a lot more mileage out of knowing Russian in order to speak better Czech than the mix-ups with word order, false friends and so on cause. Sure, to perfect all of that into oblivion takes years. But Mr Ikonomou himself has said he makes mistakes and errs (and he does a couple times in Dutch - he also has an accent in some of his languages). That's fine, so do all of us.

Once you get to the level that you can juggle so many languages at various levels, you're good enough at compartmentalization that mixing them up doesn't really happen that often and that you tend to be very capable of knowing when to say what in which language - and often barely realizing what the language you were using at the time was.

Do I sometimes say a word in Czech that's actually Russian? Sure. Am I going to use a Mandarin Chinese sentence structure that is a bit too literally ripped off of English? Probably. And will some of my German sound unmistakably Dutch, including forgetting case endings on articles? Highly likely.

It's not that big a deal. As long as the other party got the message, fine.
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Re: This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

Postby mcthulhu » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:03 am

Retired translator here; so maybe I don't count toward the total anymore, and I've basically been a lurker here anyway. (I usually agree with a lot of responses already given here, so there's not much point to echoing them.) I thought I'd respond to the comments about translators' training, though.

I did have formal training in a few languages, e.g. a double major in Russian and Spanish in college. Those proved to be good foundations for branching out into related languages on my own. Oddly enough, I think I spent the majority of my career working with languages in which I was self-taught, and in which I had gotten to the point where I could pass translation tests and become employable, even though my original motivation was just to be able to read books in those languages. Money is a powerful motivator; and several decades of translating languages, including evenings and weekends, were a pretty good training regimen. Deadlines do wonders for your concentration. I'm still interested in languages, of course, and still spend a lot of time on them in one way or another for my own pleasure; but I suspect I'll have less focus and discipline in retirement.

Being involved with translation and translation agencies does expose you to a lot of opportunities to branch out (and get more work).

If you want to see a site for people who translate for a living, try www.proz.com. It's very active but the focus is quite a bit different from this site.
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Re: This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

Postby Finny » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:24 am

smallwhite wrote:> This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

With 32 languages, I wonder if it's harder to learn a new one or not to mix up the old ones.


From the man who spoke 50...

Likewise, Professor Hale said he sometimes started speaking in one language and found himself unconsciously drifting into another.

''Unless I'm attentive and really on the ball,'' he said, ''I can mix up languages like Miskitu and Sumu, both of which are spoken in Central America and are very similar.''

Then he added with a professorial chuckle, ''But I could never confuse Navajo with Warlpiri. Ho, ho, ho. Never with Warlpiri!''
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Re: This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

Postby reineke » Sat Apr 08, 2017 3:39 pm

The comments were also interesting when we last discussed this individual:

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=984
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Re: This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

Postby s_allard » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:26 am

When I see these examples of very impressive polyglottery and think of the constant struggle that most people have with just learning one foreign language to a high level, three questions always come to my mind.

First, how did this person start on this path? It's usually at an early age in a multilingual environment.

Second, how well does the person speak each language? Or rather, what is the threshold required for speaking a language? I say this with reference to my pet theory that one can speak a language relatively well using a small core of language components, i.e. grammar and vocabulary. I maintain that this is basically what hyperpolyglots do.

Third, how do hyperpolyglots maintain their language skills? Living and especially working in a polyglot environment is the key here. What could be better than working in translation for the EU?

So, while we certainly can and should admire this accomplishment, we have to put in in context.
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Re: This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

Postby allhandsondex » Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:10 pm

smallwhite wrote:If there are 2000 fulltime translators and interpreters in that office alone, how come we don't get any of them here on LLorg? We only have one translator, I think?


I'm a translator and interpreter and interpret for the EU, not full-time but as anAuxiliary Conference Interpreter i.e. freelance
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