The man who speaks 32 languages - and counting

General discussion about learning languages
User avatar
samfrances
Orange Belt
Posts: 119
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:41 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Languages: Native: British English
Learning: Spanish (B1/B2)
Want to learn: German, Mandarin Chinese, Latin
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2967
x 156

The man who speaks 32 languages - and counting

Postby samfrances » Tue Aug 04, 2015 5:19 am

There's an interesting article in the New Statesman this week about EU interpreter Ioannis Ikonomou who reportedly speaks 32 languages.

http://www.newstatesman.com/2015/07/fearless-babel

It might be nothing new to the super-polyglots on this site, but I found it interesting. :)
2 x
: 125 / 156 : Schaum's grammar, Fluent Forever
: 301 / 1000 : Learn / make flashcards for 1000 most frequent Spanish words

User avatar
rdearman
Site Admin
Posts: 4728
Joined: Thu May 14, 2015 4:18 pm
Location: United Kingdom
Languages: English (N)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1836
x 11275
Contact:

Re: The man who speaks 32 languages - and counting

Postby rdearman » Tue Aug 04, 2015 8:24 am

Very interesting reading.
1 x
: 6 / 100 100 Italian paperbacks:
: 306 / 75000 Output Challenge 2019 (普通话写作):

Lollygagging Podcast available on iTunes

User avatar
Ogrim
Blue Belt
Posts: 789
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:29 am
Location: Alsace, France
Languages: Norwegian (N) English (C2), French (C2), Spanish (C2), German (B2), Romansh (B2), Italian (B2), Catalan (B2), Russian (B1), Latin (B1), Dutch (B1), Arabic (learning), Romanian (kind of learning)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/viewtopic.php?t=873
x 2514

Re: The man who speaks 32 languages - and counting

Postby Ogrim » Tue Aug 04, 2015 9:38 am

There is a thread about him over on the real HTLAL - here is the link: http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=13877&PN=1&TPN=1
0 x
Ich grolle nicht

User avatar
aokoye
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1694
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 6:14 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Languages: English (N), German (~C1), Swedish (beginner), Dutch (A2), French (~A1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=10151
x 2861
Contact:

Re: The man who speaks 32 languages - and counting

Postby aokoye » Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:34 pm

I think one of the things I like most about Ioannis Ikonomou, outside of the fact that he seems really humble, is that he uses so many of the languages that he knows (seemingly all of the EU ones) professionally. That's more or less what I want to do but I have no desire to learn 20 languages.
1 x
Prefered gender pronouns: Masculine

lichtrausch
Orange Belt
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2015 3:21 pm
Languages: English, Japanese, German
Learning: Mandarin, Korean, French
x 235

Re: The man who speaks 32 languages - and counting

Postby lichtrausch » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:59 pm

The video below has a couple minutes of him speaking German. I was a bit underwhelmed considering German is one of the most important languages in the EU and presumably one of his strongest languages, being an EU translator. It gives me some doubts about his abilities in farther out languages like Hindi and Mandarin. That said, I don't deny that his accomplishments are impressive.

0 x

User avatar
robarb
White Belt
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2015 1:10 am
Location: USA
Languages: English (N), Portuguese (~N), French, Spanish, Swedish, Esperanto, Italian, German, Dutch, Mandarin, Danish, Norwegian, Latin (b), Greek (b), Nepali (b), Polish (b), Japanese (b), Cantonese (b), Hebrew (b), Korean (b)
x 107
Contact:

Re: The man who speaks 32 languages - and counting

Postby robarb » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:40 pm

I think his German is pretty decent, keeping in mind that he's a professional translator, not a professional talker. Immediate speaking fluency is the only part of language that's really challenging to maintain in many languages at once.

It's pretty standard (but not universal) for hyperpolyglots to have fairly weak skills in their weakest 10-50% of languages. Unless the man is claiming he speaks all of them perfectly, that should be no surprise.

He's not:
“I am not a machine. I do not speak languages perfectly. I have a Greek accent!” he said.


If he can do this in all 20 EU languages, and also mostly understand and stumble through speaking another 12, that is impressive and about what one would expect to be underlying a media claim of "man speaks 32 languages fluently."

Of course it's hard or impossible to know exactly what skills known polyglots have in the weakest of the languages they choose to study. We really can't say. Documentation of these things is not really a thing that happens--although I will certainly make an effort to document my skills if they ever get good enough that people would actually care. Not there yet...
1 x

User avatar
aokoye
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1694
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 6:14 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Languages: English (N), German (~C1), Swedish (beginner), Dutch (A2), French (~A1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=10151
x 2861
Contact:

Re: The man who speaks 32 languages - and counting

Postby aokoye » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:29 pm

Yeah his spoken German isn't super amazing but that isn't what he's translating into and I don't know that that's what he was interpreting into when he was doing interpreting for the EU. He also very well could have been having an off day.
1 x
Prefered gender pronouns: Masculine


Return to “General Language Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: marie39 and 2 guests