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Status of leading polyglots

  Tags: Polyglot
 Language Learning Forum : Polyglots Post Reply
15 messages over 2 pages: 1 2  Next >>
robarb
Nonaglot
Senior Member
United States
languagenpluson
Joined 3244 days ago

361 posts - 921 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese, English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, French
Studies: Mandarin, Danish, Russian, Norwegian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Greek, Latin, Nepali, Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 1 of 15
09 May 2015 at 7:11pm | IP Logged 
I've noticed there's a recurring discussion about the extreme claims of great (or, supposedly great) polyglots.
However, there's often a lack of real information about who has done what, and how sure we can be. For the
people who are known for learning 30 or more languages, could we build up a list of who they are and a
summary of the status of their claims? Wikipedia has poor coverage of this, and I don't know where else to look.

Example:

Alexander Arguelles
Languages: 38 (source: his personal website. Counting archaic forms of modern languages).
Families: Mostly Germanic and Romance; 2 non-Indo-European languages.
Emphasis: Reading
Documentation: Well attested (source?)

Giuseppe Mezzofanti
Languages: 29 (Russell) -72 (HTLAL). Low estimate is "Languages frequently tested, and spoken with rare
excellence." High estimate includes languages studied but not mastered, and several languages that are difficult
to match with specific modern languages.
Families: Diverse
Emphasis: Balanced, although some languages were written-only
Documentation: 19th century records confirm he was definitely a great polyglot, but details are uncertain.

Can we correct and expand this, or direct me to a place where this information is already compiled? Thanks!



Edited by robarb on 09 May 2015 at 10:54pm

2 persons have voted this message useful





jeff_lindqvist
Diglot
Moderator
SwedenRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5094 days ago

4250 posts - 5710 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English
Studies: German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Mandarin, Esperanto, Irish, French
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 2 of 15
11 May 2015 at 12:05am | IP Logged 
Somewhere on one of the Polyglot Berlin pages (Twitter?) Facebook?), Sprachprofi mentioned that she had met two participiants who had twenty (!) languages in common, plus a handful of other languages the other one didn't speak. I don't know who they were but wouldn't be surprised if at least one of them is an HTLAL member.
1 person has voted this message useful



robarb
Nonaglot
Senior Member
United States
languagenpluson
Joined 3244 days ago

361 posts - 921 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese, English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, French
Studies: Mandarin, Danish, Russian, Norwegian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Greek, Latin, Nepali, Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 3 of 15
11 May 2015 at 12:28am | IP Logged 
Here's the spotty information I was able to glean off Wikipedia. Presumably, more is known about many of these
people, and I doubt this handful of people constitutes everyone who's claimed or been cited as knowing 30+
languages. There may be some non-famous individuals out there, or in our community, as well.

Perhaps I need to get in contact with Michael Erard?

Johan Vandewalle
Languages: 31
Documentation: Polyglot of Flanders/Babel Prize judged him as able to speak 31 languages.

Ziad Fazah
Languages: 59
Families: Diverse
Documentation: Controversial. Notorious appearance on Chilean television program Viva el lunes in which
he appeared to be unable to understand some of his languages.

al-Farabi
Languages: 70
Documentation: He lived in the 10th century, so claims may be difficult to establish.

Harold Williams
Languages: 58
Families: Diverse

Rahul Sankrityayan
Languages: 36
Families: Primarily South Asian languages
Documentation: He published writings in at least five of his languages.

Uku Masing
Languages: 65 ("Could translate" from 20)

George Campbell
Languages: 44-64

Ahmad Hasan Dani
Languages: 35
Families: Mostly South Asian

Kenneth Hale
Languages: 50+
Families: Several Native American and Australian Aboriginal, in addition to the popular languages

Emil Krebs
Languages: 68 (speak) - 100+ (understand), according to his wife


Edited by robarb on 11 May 2015 at 12:33am

1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2892 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 4 of 15
11 May 2015 at 9:23am | IP Logged 
jeff_lindqvist wrote:
Somewhere on one of the Polyglot Berlin pages (Twitter?)
Facebook?), Sprachprofi mentioned that she had met two participiants who had twenty (!)
languages in common, plus a handful of other languages the other one didn't speak.
I don't know who they were but wouldn't be surprised if at least one of them is an HTLAL
member.


You are sure that's not just Richard Simcott and Emanuele Marini? :D
1 person has voted this message useful



basica
Senior Member
Australia
Joined 1721 days ago

157 posts - 269 votes 
Studies: Serbian

 
 Message 5 of 15
11 May 2015 at 9:28am | IP Logged 
Relevant to tarvos' post:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Deu-ayVcT-k
1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2892 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 6 of 15
11 May 2015 at 9:44am | IP Logged 
Marini speaks more languages than that. They're just not shown in that video.
1 person has voted this message useful





jeff_lindqvist
Diglot
Moderator
SwedenRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5094 days ago

4250 posts - 5710 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English
Studies: German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Mandarin, Esperanto, Irish, French
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 7 of 15
11 May 2015 at 8:28pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
You are sure that's not just Richard Simcott and Emanuele Marini? :D


Actually, I'm quite positive they were the ones...
1 person has voted this message useful





Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 4888 days ago

9078 posts - 16470 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 8 of 15
11 May 2015 at 11:49pm | IP Logged 
robarb wrote:
Uku Masing
Languages: 65 ("Could translate" from 20)


How can you be able to speak 65 languages and 'only' be able to translate from 20 of them?

Somebody must have used a harsher yardstick for the translations than for his speaking skills.


1 person has voted this message useful



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