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Are polyglots at times overrated ?

  Tags: Polyglot
 Language Learning Forum : Polyglots Post Reply
27 messages over 4 pages: 1 24  Next >>
montmorency
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3022 days ago

2371 posts - 3675 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Danish, Welsh

 
 Message 17 of 27
16 December 2013 at 3:03am | IP Logged 
bela_lugosi wrote:
tarvos wrote:
Impressing me requires the language to be
automatic.


Good point. I think Youtube videos are for the most part a misrepresentation of one's
actual real life skills because - at least in the case of polyglots - they are not
improvised and fail to take into consideration another important factor: dialogue and
interaction. I personally admire Richard, Solfrid Cristin and Luca for being brave
enough to interview one another in multiple languages on a variety of topics and put
these videos online for the whole world to see. That shows their real level, and I have
to say that I was impressed when I first saw the videos. Those guys do deserve some
admiration for their achievements.



You have helped to bring out what is (in my opinion) a really important point, which is
that an intelligent conversation is usually much more interesting and stimulating for
the viewer than listening to a monologue. And a good interview is, at best, a
conversation. It can be partially prepared, but mostly spontaneous. It's usually
better, because the participants bounce ideas off each other and spark inspiration in
each other.


It would be great if we could actually see and hear, or simply just hear, more
interviews / conversation between people who are good in a few languages (even if they
are not "card-carrying" polyglots. I think I'd actually prefer just listening to
watching and listening, since then people don't need to be so worried about what they
look like, or be too worried about the technology. If they can be in the same room,
then they can just share a microphone or there could be some relatively simple multi-
microphone setup. Or if at a distance I guess it's not that difficult to record the
audio from a skype conversation. So what I'm saying is audio podcasts, as a slightly
simpler alternative to Youtube videos.


Well, whatever the technology used, it needs for a few people to want to get together
and to have something interesting to say. And maybe choose some substantial subject,
other than language-learning, although language-learning (and of course actual
languages) could some into it.

E.g. a monthly HTLAL discussion series: two or more people in discussion( probably no
more than three or four though, otherwise the mechanics get too complicated), ideally
speaking in a language which is not native for at least one of them. Actually, probably
good to have a native speaker as one of the participants, in whatever language it is,
to provide a sort of "gold standard".

To be recorded at leisure (relatively speaking) then the result posted.....is
Soundcloud an appropriate place? I don't know what limitations there are there.

Well, anyway, this was mainly just thinking "out loud", but it may inspire someone....



7 persons have voted this message useful



jpmtl
Diglot
Groupie
Canada
Joined 2196 days ago

44 posts - 115 votes 
Speaks: French*, English
Studies: Spanish, Russian

 
 Message 18 of 27
16 December 2013 at 8:29pm | IP Logged 
tanya b wrote:
But it is a skill that is almost completely ignored by the mass-media. Here in the US I have NEVER even heard the word "polyglot" mentioned. Ask most Americans what a polyglot is, and they are mystified. Most probably think it's some kind of suctioned sea creature or a device that a plumber would use.


True. Which is why my answer to the OP is: "Overrated by whom?" If people don't generally care about polyglots in the first place, how can they be overrated?

I suppose it doesn't get a lot of attention because why should it, unless it's an exceptional case, like Alexander Arguelles? The only difference between knowing x languages as opposed to knowing 1 or 2 is the time spent learning additional languages, and spending more time than others doing something is not newsworthy.


3 persons have voted this message useful



geoffw
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2882 days ago

1134 posts - 1865 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Yiddish
Studies: Modern Hebrew, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian

 
 Message 19 of 27
17 December 2013 at 12:12am | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
Well said, renaissancemedi. This may be close to sacrilege here on
HTLAL but I am more impressed by someone who has something interesting or stimulating
to say, something that makes me think or can challenge my perceptions, than by someone
who can say any random thing in a bunch of different languages.

Some (not all, by any means) polyglots devote so much (or too much) of their
time to language-learning that they don't have much to say beyond this very specialized
field. I'd rather be stuck on a desert island with someone who can intelligently
discuss life, literature, philosophy, physics or art than somebody who can speak a
dozen languages and yet isn't able to say very much that's interesting or stimulating
in any of them.

Something to beware of for all of us as we pursue this hobby. What's it worth to be
able to speak a dozen languages and yet be boring in all of them?


This is actually something I worry about myself! Not to say that I "speak a dozen
languages" (though I might admit to studying or dabbling in that many), but rather that
when I get more deeply involved in my studies I sometimes find myself at a loss for
words trying to chat with people in the "real world." When I spend all my free time on
grammar and rereading Harry Potter for the fiftieth time, that's not much fodder for
conversation. Mixing it up by actually pursuing interests such as sports and hobbies
(in a TL, perhaps!), and doing my TL reading with a broader variety of subject material
can help, to some extent.
3 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2901 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 20 of 27
19 December 2013 at 12:44am | IP Logged 
montmorency wrote:
bela_lugosi wrote:
tarvos wrote:
Impressing me requires the
language to be
automatic.


Good point. I think Youtube videos are for the most part a misrepresentation of one's
actual real life skills because - at least in the case of polyglots - they are not
improvised and fail to take into consideration another important factor: dialogue and
interaction. I personally admire Richard, Solfrid Cristin and Luca for being brave
enough to interview one another in multiple languages on a variety of topics and put
these videos online for the whole world to see. That shows their real level, and I have
to say that I was impressed when I first saw the videos. Those guys do deserve some
admiration for their achievements.



You have helped to bring out what is (in my opinion) a really important point, which is
that an intelligent conversation is usually much more interesting and stimulating for
the viewer than listening to a monologue. And a good interview is, at best, a
conversation. It can be partially prepared, but mostly spontaneous. It's usually
better, because the participants bounce ideas off each other and spark inspiration in
each other.


It would be great if we could actually see and hear, or simply just hear, more
interviews / conversation between people who are good in a few languages (even if they
are not "card-carrying" polyglots. I think I'd actually prefer just listening to
watching and listening, since then people don't need to be so worried about what they
look like, or be too worried about the technology. If they can be in the same room,
then they can just share a microphone or there could be some relatively simple multi-
microphone setup. Or if at a distance I guess it's not that difficult to record the
audio from a skype conversation. So what I'm saying is audio podcasts, as a slightly
simpler alternative to Youtube videos.


Well, whatever the technology used, it needs for a few people to want to get together
and to have something interesting to say. And maybe choose some substantial subject,
other than language-learning, although language-learning (and of course actual
languages) could some into it.

E.g. a monthly HTLAL discussion series: two or more people in discussion( probably no
more than three or four though, otherwise the mechanics get too complicated), ideally
speaking in a language which is not native for at least one of them. Actually, probably
good to have a native speaker as one of the participants, in whatever language it is,
to provide a sort of "gold standard".

To be recorded at leisure (relatively speaking) then the result posted.....is
Soundcloud an appropriate place? I don't know what limitations there are there.

Well, anyway, this was mainly just thinking "out loud", but it may inspire someone....




So basically do interviews which are interesting in general, the bonus being the
capability to express themselves in another foreign language (not necessarily having to
be a polyglot, just the capabiity of expressing yourself well in a language besides
English or your native tongue).
5 persons have voted this message useful



Torbyrne
Super Polyglot
Senior Member
Macedonia
SpeakingFluently.com
Joined 4289 days ago

126 posts - 721 votes 
Speaks: French, English*, German, Spanish, Dutch, Macedonian, Portuguese, Italian, Swedish, Czech, Catalan, Welsh, Serbo-Croatian
Studies: Sign Language, Toki Pona, Albanian, Polish, Bulgarian, TurkishA1, Esperanto, Romanian, Danish, Mandarin, Icelandic, Modern Hebrew, Greek, Latvian, Estonian

 
 Message 21 of 27
20 December 2013 at 9:09am | IP Logged 
I think I may have found someone doing something on YouTube that fits the bill for those of you who want something that is not just about languages and language learning. This guy has written a piece in 6 languages, which he acts out in this video for your viewing pleasure! Enjoy! :)

Edited by Torbyrne on 20 December 2013 at 9:10am

7 persons have voted this message useful



SchwarzerWolf
Newbie
Italy
Joined 2717 days ago

20 posts - 27 votes
Speaks: Italian*
Studies: English, German

 
 Message 23 of 27
26 December 2013 at 9:44pm | IP Logged 
Whether or not many polyglots are overrated, that's impossible to answer and maybe useless, too. Each one of us could give a different definition of "polyglot" and we could disagree on what kind of topics a polyglot should be able to talk about fluently.
Although I don't think that most polyglots have a thorough knowlegde of each language they claim to know, they can talk about several topics in their target language and they're generally very humble and will tell you it takes a lot of time to acquire a certain level of knowledge and improve it day by day.
Moreover, learning a language involves a series of abilities and skills hard to acquire: listening, pronunciation, slang, idioms and so on. So....what does it means to speak a language? I can easily read an article in English about nearsightedness, deforestation or cancer rates in Australia and New Zealand, but don't ask me to follow an episode of the Simpsons or American Dad, I can just catch a few words here and there.
That's why when someone asks me whether I speak English I tell him "No"
3 persons have voted this message useful



luke
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5399 days ago

3133 posts - 4350 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 24 of 27
26 December 2013 at 11:03pm | IP Logged 
SchwarzerWolf wrote:
I can easily read an article in English about nearsightedness, deforestation or
cancer rates in Australia and New Zealand, but don't ask me to follow an episode of the Simpsons or
American Dad, I can just catch a few words here and there.
That's why when someone asks me whether I speak English I tell him "No"


My wife thinks you probably understand every word of the Simpsons. The confusing part is how such an
asinine show can be one of the top rated shows in the United States. You must be thinking, "surely, they
don't mean what I think they are saying, that wouldn't be funny".


2 persons have voted this message useful



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