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Video Wili Melnikov - 103 languages

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Vlad
Trilingual Super Polyglot
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Czechoslovakia
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 Message 1 of 37
16 November 2010 at 12:21pm | IP Logged 
I don't know, whether Mr. Melnikov has been discussed before, but I would like to share this video:

A hyperpolyglot Willy Melnikov speaking 103 languages

I was wondering whether he was finally proof that under certain conditions (brain damage in his case) it would be possible to reach advanced fluency in such a great number of languages, until I saw this next video:

Wili Melnikov Happy birthday in 30 languages

I didn't understand his English and German the first time (even though it was obvious what he was about to say) and didn't understand his Hungarian and Chinese at all, which made me wonder, that if he had problems with such a simple sentence, the rest would probably be only worse.

However I think the existence of people like him and recently debated Cesare is very important, because more and more I am convinced that there is no one in this world or history who would be able to reach and preserve advanced fluency in even 20-30+ languages (languages reasonably different). At least not what the more demanding members (including me I hope) of this forum call advanced fluency.

My estimation is, that even if you were a born 3-4 lingual, had the best immersion possibilities while you were a child and would do nothing else, but learn and practice languages for the rest of your life, you still could not get over 25-30 languages in your late 70ties.

Even provided one is incredibly talented, has the best conditions and resources, the sheer time spent learning the languages and the 'upkeep' of ones abilities make it impossible time-wise. As this video shows, people with super memory are no exception.

After watching these videos I think more than ever, that quantity and quantity should be well balanced and aiming for fluency in a ridiculous amount of languages is pointless, because it is simply impossible.

I translated the parts of the first video related to his language skills:

Special capabilities are often a result of stress, trauma, the result of waking up from a coma or any other physical impact to the brain. After suffering from a head injury, Willy Melnikov not only began to speak 103 languages, but also started to write poetry in them.

Willy has many acquaintances all over the world and he can talk to all of them in their own native language.

After his 10th grade, Willy was accepted to a Veterinary academy and later sent to Afghanistan. As a 23 year old, Willy Melnikov suffers a grave injury to the left part of his brain. During the operation, his heart stops and the doctors proclaim him as clinically dead. Unexpectedly, after 7 minutes, Willy’s heart begins to beat again.

3-4 years after his injury in Afghanistan, a phenomenal memory and the desire to learn awakens in Willy. Melnikov starts to work as a (I didn’t understand the word), he studies astrophysics and entomology, and tries his luck as an artist, actor and poet, but the main thing is, he learns 103 world languages to perfection.

Question: Do you feel to be a Superhuman?
Answer: *Laugh* Of course not. Not even in a nightmare would I dream of such a thing.

Willy easily agrees to any testing of his knowledge. He is now on his way to meet 3 foreigners and does not know, which languages he will have to speak.

Interview:

Japanese:
Have you ever been to Japan?

Willy: For me it is more interesting to travel in time, rather than in space.

Tomoko: I was very surprised, that he has never been to Japan, he yet speaks Japanese so well.

Patrice, student from Côte d'Ivoire: The Baule language is very rare, why did you decide to study it?

Willy: I decided to study Baule, because I used to study together with people from Côte d'Ivoire. And for me it was interesting. (now a part that I don’t get where he says: than people breathe in your country/what people breathe in your country??)

Patrice: Our language is not a language that can be studied in school or university, and yet a person from Russia understands it, we were communicating and I liked it very much.

Sigga: How long have you been studying Danish?

Willy: I am sorry, I speak Icelandic. I can understand Danish well, but it is difficult for me to speak it.

Sigga: He was speaking Icelandic almost all the time. It was difficult for me to understand. But I think he could be understood.

Willy could not remember how to speak Danish, that’s why he rather spoke Icelandic, which belongs to the same language group.

Willy: One should not perceive polyglots as walking biocomputers, as if it would be enough to move the cursor over the correct file, make a mouse click and the language would be learned. No, it’s not like this, even though I would like it to be this way.

Willy thinks, that there are no people incapable of learning foreign languages; only ones learning techniques should be different.

Willy: I never approach languages through grammar. I start with dialogues. It is absolutely possible, within 5, 8, 9, 10 months, to absorb ….. 6 languages and know them perfectly, when it comes to speaking and writing. It really is possible to know them. *I didn’t get all the words in this sentence*

What is it that makes the brain of Willy Melnikov so different from others? Willy’s brain has been injured, his left *** part has been damaged – the place where the speech center of the brain is located. The human brain is a universal system and should one part stop working a different part starts to support its function. Possibly because of the fact that Willy’s speech center has been moved from the left hemisphere into the right-creative one, he became a lot more absorbing towards languages.

Willy: For me the criteria for one to “know” a language is the ability to write poems in it, depending on the situation and/or mood. It’s difficult to say whether it is a gift or a curse. It is difficult to say. You know, it all depends on the eyes and ears of those who are listening to me and who are looking at me at the given moment. There are those, who consider this a gift from God, and there are not few of those who consider this to be the proof of my pact with the devil.

Edited by Vlad on 17 November 2010 at 7:22pm

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Arekkusu
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Canada
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 Message 2 of 37
16 November 2010 at 4:51pm | IP Logged 
Is it just me or his Japanese was incomprehensible in the first video? I got the girl's question, of course, but I only caught the odd word, seemingly out of context, in his reply.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Sprachprofi
Nonaglot
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 Message 3 of 37
16 November 2010 at 4:55pm | IP Logged 
Indeed, he seems to be good at faking languages (projecting their feel), but he is not
understandable in any of the languages I speak, including German.
1 person has voted this message useful



Arekkusu
Hexaglot
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Canada
bit.ly/qc_10_lec
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Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
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 Message 4 of 37
16 November 2010 at 5:01pm | IP Logged 
The girl spoke to him in Danish, but he replied in Islandic, right?

Turns out the only credible part of the video is the brain damage.

Edited by Arekkusu on 16 November 2010 at 5:02pm

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Iversen
Super Polyglot
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 Message 5 of 37
16 November 2010 at 5:26pm | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
The girl spoke to him in Danish, but he replied in Islandic, right?


It was not even Icelandic. I could hear words from several Scandinavian languages, but the whole thing was totally incomprehensible to me.

Edited by Iversen on 16 November 2010 at 5:27pm

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Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
bit.ly/qc_10_lec
Joined 3819 days ago

3971 posts - 7746 votes 
Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 
 Message 6 of 37
16 November 2010 at 5:36pm | IP Logged 
Sorry, "Icelandic" 8|

Anyway, that was a great piece of journalism, right there.
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Vlad
Trilingual Super Polyglot
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Czechoslovakia
foreverastudent.com
Joined 5022 days ago

443 posts - 576 votes 
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Speaks: Czech*, Slovak*, Hungarian*, Mandarin, EnglishC2, GermanC2, ItalianC1, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Serbian, French
Studies: Persian, Taiwanese, Romanian, Portuguese

 
 Message 7 of 37
16 November 2010 at 6:03pm | IP Logged 
I'm sorry for the incorrect second link. I've used the same youtube video by mistake. Here's the correct one:

Wili Melnikov Happy birthday in 30 languages



Edited by Vlad on 16 November 2010 at 6:06pm

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Gusutafu
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Sweden
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 Message 8 of 37
17 November 2010 at 10:04am | IP Logged 
he did say he studied acting, that may explain it. Russian news pieces of the kind "you won't believe this amazing thing" are genreally not very credible...


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