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Fictional Polyglots

 Language Learning Forum : Polyglots Post Reply
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Rykketid
Diglot
Groupie
Italy
Joined 3021 days ago

88 posts - 146 votes 
Speaks: Italian*, English
Studies: French

 
 Message 81 of 82
01 October 2012 at 8:31am | IP Logged 
I didn't read all the ten pages of replies to your topic so I'm sorry if someone had
already mentioned it before: Baudolino, the protagonist of the novel with the same title
by Umberto Eco; he's an adopted son of Frederick I Barbarossa who is able to learn a new
language in a very short time even by just listening to people speaking it.
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3720 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 82 of 82
28 July 2014 at 3:07pm | IP Logged 
Another fun fictional polyglot: Lady Trent, from Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons.

Lady Trent is interesting, because she's actually pretty awful at learning languages. But despite her lack of talent, she takes it as a given that she can learn new languages, and she speaks several, albeit rather badly.

This book is also interesting for its accurate portrayal of language learning. How many of the following passages seem familiar?

Quote:
To cover for my loss of composure, I questioned Faj Rawango as we rode out of the dockside district and through Nsebu proper. Or rather, that was my intention; it soon devolved into a polite argument wherein each of us tried to insist upon using the other’s native tongue, with the result that he spoke to me in Scirling and I responded in Yembe. Languages have never been my métier, so I fear he had the better of me in the comparison of skill, but my experience in Vystrana had taught me that there is nothing like using a language on a regular basis to better one’s skill. I therefore persevered until Faj Rawango bowed in the face of my stubbornness and began answering me in Yembe.



Here Faj Rawango conversed briefly and incomprehensibly with a guard, making it apparent just how much he had slowed and clarified his speech for my sake. Thus interviewed, we rode onward, and began our ascent of the hill at its gentlest point.   



By now I was tired enough that my brain had become sulky about handling a foreign tongue, but I understood from the woman’s words that this was to be a shared residence for Natalie and myself.



“I would be a poor teacher, my lord,” I said, defaulting, in the absence of his name, to a generically polite address. “I have struggled three years to acquire any ability in your language. Such things do not come easily to me, I fear.”

This is a really fun book, by the way: Imagine Pride and Prejudice crossed with dragons and 19th-century science in strange and remote corners of the world.

Edited by emk on 28 July 2014 at 5:05pm

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