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Terutoyo Taneda: 20 languages

 Language Learning Forum : Polyglots Post Reply
16 messages over 2 pages: 1 2  Next >>
janalisa
Triglot
Senior Member
France
janafadness.com/blog
Joined 5083 days ago

284 posts - 466 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Japanese
Studies: Russian, Norwegian

 
 Message 1 of 16
22 March 2007 at 12:18am | IP Logged 
Has anyone heard of a Japanese polyglot named Terutoyo Taneda? It is said that he can speak 20 languages fluently. I came across some information about him on a Japanese website, but there seems to be very little written about him in English. Apparently he wrote a book in Japanese called 「20ヶ国語ぺらぺら」("Fluent in 20 Languages") in 1969 and then pretty much disappeared. His book seems to be somewhat well-known amongst aspiring polyglots in Japan. It is thought that he now resides in the United States, but no one really knows what (if anything) he has been doing with his languages, whether he has learned anymore languages, etc. Apparently he had learned over half of his 20 languages by the age of 20, and all 20 of them by the age of 30. The above-mentioned Japanese website included the following chart (the years on the left refer to the year in which he began studying each language):

1939(birth)
1951(12 y.o.): English(Junior High Grade 1)
1954(15 y.o.): French(High School Grade 1)
1955(16 y.o.): Swedish, German, Russian (High School Grade 2 with Study Abroad in the USA)
1956(17 y.o.): Finnish (High School Grade 2)
1957(18 y.o.): Dutch, Chinese(High School Grade 3)
1959(20 y.o.): Italian, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic(College Freshman)
1960(21 y.o.): Persian, Turkish(College Sophomore)、Spanish
1965(26 y.o.): Portuguese
1966(27 y.o.): Latin, Greek
1967(28 y.o.): Czchech, Indonesian, Romanian, Korean, Arabic
1969(30): "Fluent in 20 Languages" is published.

Kind of interesting, eh?

For anyone who can read Japanese, here's a link to that website:

http://ijustat.at.infoseek.co.jp/gaikokugo/taneda.html
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Journeyer
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
tristan85.blogspot.c
Joined 5061 days ago

946 posts - 1110 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, German
Studies: Sign Language

 
 Message 2 of 16
22 March 2007 at 5:17am | IP Logged 
Thanks for the info, janalisa!

I wonder where he found time to study multiple languages in college?

Are there translations of his book available in English? I tried Googling it, but I didn't have much success.
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japkorengchi
Senior Member
Hong Kong
Joined 4873 days ago

334 posts - 355 votes 

 
 Message 3 of 16
22 March 2007 at 9:36am | IP Logged 
O It's really a good news. It seems we don't have any active member in this forum who is native Japanese speaker! Sometimes Japanese people gives me the feeling of being not interested in languages(even their mother tongue). If we can get to know him, it's a wonderful to invite him to join this forum
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janalisa
Triglot
Senior Member
France
janafadness.com/blog
Joined 5083 days ago

284 posts - 466 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Japanese
Studies: Russian, Norwegian

 
 Message 4 of 16
22 March 2007 at 11:16am | IP Logged 
As far as I can tell, there doesn't seem to be an English translation of the book. I tried searching Amazon with no success.

There also seems to be very little information about this guy in general, even in Japanese. The site I linked to above seems to have the most extensive information. Everything else seemed to be just people briefly mentioning his book.

I guess he's sort of a mysterious character. =) I'd like to try to get my hands on that book, though.
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solidsnake
Diglot
Senior Member
China
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469 posts - 488 votes 
Speaks: English*, Mandarin

 
 Message 5 of 16
22 March 2007 at 8:18pm | IP Logged 
Is it me or does it seem like every 20+ language polyglot doesnt really do much with their lives?

;)
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Raincrowlee
Tetraglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4895 days ago

621 posts - 808 votes 
Speaks: English*, Mandarin, Korean, French
Studies: Indonesian, Japanese

 
 Message 6 of 16
22 March 2007 at 10:00pm | IP Logged 
I sometimes think that, too, solidsnake. I guess it's up to us to change that. :)

As far as Japanese speakers learning other languages, I get the feeling that they spend most of their time learning other Asian lanuages. I have any number of Japanese classmates who are living overseas studying Chinese. Most of them have studied English, but many have also studied another language in addition. It's probably not that they aren't interested, but rather they are not aware that there is a forum in English discussing it.
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japkorengchi
Senior Member
Hong Kong
Joined 4873 days ago

334 posts - 355 votes 

 
 Message 7 of 16
23 March 2007 at 9:45am | IP Logged 
I hope someday we will see a Japanese native speaker coming to this forum and talk with us and share with us his/her discovery. We are desperately in need of a Japanese native speaker here because of the number of people learnin Japanese, and the virtual nonexistence of any active Japanese member.

By the way, I have found Japanese has very good language learning materials. Most of their materials are very user-friendly and fun to use. Besides French, Japanese is also a good language to learn as a "mediating" language for other languages.
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Journeyer
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
tristan85.blogspot.c
Joined 5061 days ago

946 posts - 1110 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, German
Studies: Sign Language

 
 Message 8 of 16
23 March 2007 at 1:12pm | IP Logged 
japkorengchi wrote:
...I have found Japanese has very good language learning materials. Most of their materials are very user-friendly and fun to use. Besides French, Japanese is also a good language to learn as a "mediating" language for other languages.


That kind of surprises me, but for no good reason. One of the very reasons I look forward to studying French when I get home from Germany is because of what you mentioned.

I will say, though, I've only had limited experience with Japanese people, but with only a few exceptions from my experience, most of them seemed to really struggle with languages. I don't like making generalizations, but sometimes I've wondered what kind of program they have in Japan (not that American language education is anything magnificiant, for the most part).


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