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Washington Post: The remarkable brain of a carpet cleaner who speaks 24 languages

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Expert
<a href="/nl/translator/cph1776" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1467452">cph1776</a>
Lid geworden op: 21.08.2020
Pending moderation

[...]
"Far more unusual are the world’s “hyperpolyglots,” people who, by one expert’s definition, can speak 11 languages or more. The higher the number, the rarer the person. But there have been many documented cases of such linguistic legends, each one raising questions about the limits of human potential — the same questions I had about Vaughn."
[...]

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/interactive/2022/multilingual-hy...

Super Member
<a href="/nl/translator/musapyr" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1406862">Musapyr</a>
Lid geworden op: 25.12.2018

Impossible to read. Demands to sign in

Nordic Enthusiast
<a href="/nl/translator/somethingswell" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1509067">somethingswell</a>
Lid geworden op: 03.08.2021

It's worth pointing out that in the article, it says that many of those languages he is not fluent or proficient in. It even includes several languages in the categories "intermediate", "basic", and "some knowledge of". I personally don't count anything less than conversational. But, that's just me.

I am not trying to be overly critical, though. I actually think that since learning new languages tends to become easier the more you do it, at a certain point (I don't know what number this is, but I reckon that by 10 you've probably passed it...) it would be relatively easy to just keep adding to one's list. So the idea of hyperpolyglots is not super shocking to me.

Super Member
<a href="/nl/translator/musapyr" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1406862">Musapyr</a>
Lid geworden op: 25.12.2018

I assumed it. I know what is a journalistic hype.
I only was interested in list of languages. Even basic knowledge in radically different languages (e.g. Arabic, Chinese, Russian, France and so on) impresses me more than intermediate level in related ones (Spanish/Portuguese). It means that s/he can communicate and help people. For me the main function of the language is this.
I read one German person who considered himself fluent in English but had confessed that he understood nothing in Alabamish and Californian.

Nordic Enthusiast
<a href="/nl/translator/somethingswell" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1509067">somethingswell</a>
Lid geworden op: 03.08.2021

If you still can't see the article, the languages it lists are, by category --

Fluent: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Romanian

Conversational: Croatian, Finnish, Italian, Latvian, Nahuatl, Serbian

Intermediate: American Sign Language, Catalan, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Irish Gaelic, Norwegian, Polish

Basic: Amharic, Arabic, Estonian, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Japanese, Lakota, Lithuanian, Mandarin, Navajo, Salish, Sinhalese, Swedish, Ukrainian, Welsh

Some familiarity: Mongolian, Vietnamese, Tzotzil, Zapotec

So I guess they only count from intermediate and up, which is where they get the number 24. I confess I'm not even familiar with a few of these languages.

Super Member
<a href="/nl/translator/musapyr" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1406862">Musapyr</a>
Lid geworden op: 25.12.2018

Thank you so much!
I'm really very impressed with this person. So many not just languages but absolutely different language families, including isolated. If I know some of them on level A0.
I envy him/her.

Member
<a href="/nl/translator/clairesy" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1497684">ClaireSy</a>
Lid geworden op: 19.04.2021

Wow, what a collection!!

In addition to the exchange:
People have very different perceptions of their ability. In general I observe round me men being proud of their competences and women focussed on their limits, but then there are many personal differences also. Everyone also has limits and main focusses: one who is fluent in written language can get difficulties listening - and one that may perfectly interact directly may have difficulties with vocabulary, spelling and correct grammar used in written language. And then there's the cultural point: there are so important cultural differences considering communication - also between languages of the same family - that one can start stepping into only having intense exchange with native speakers. Those differences are relevant considering the amount of vocabulary and expressions that express concepts or feelings that can not be traduced into every other language.
So in fact I feel it's difficult to define standard levels in the mastery of languages, because a language has several technical and social aspects that do not need to interdepend and therefore can all be mastered in a very different degree.

I'm fond of the idea to be able to communicate in languagese of different linguistic families. However it takes some time to step into cultural modes and cultural awareness, and that happens less on the surface of some basic vocabulary. I like to discover myself and situations through different modes of expression / behaviour / moving etc, I feel that this is one of the most precious gifts practicing intercultural exchange: radical tool to open my mind and crack unconscient parts of my habits and concept about myself.
People and their focusses are so colourfully different on the surface - also considering their interest and aim in communication and language(s): that is also exciting and pleasant.

- I would never expect anyone considering him/herself as "fluent in English" needing to speak Alabamish / Californian / Irish / Welsh etc... As well as I would never expect anyone - foreigner or native speaker - to understand and speak a dialect or regional language. I have difficulties to understand several dialects in my native languages -as far as they are spoken with consequence- and I start to catch something when I am in longer contact with someone. Travelling as well as sedentary people around me tend to have very similar experiences. As a native speaker I consider I may try to communicate with less-experienced people in standard language - and simplified if useful. However in the US I guess that each state is so big that each of their ways of talking could feel like standard...?