Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

Sebastian Heine

 Language Learning Forum : Polyglots Post Reply
32 messages over 4 pages: 1 2 3 4  Next >>
daristani
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5404 days ago

738 posts - 1635 votes 
Studies: Uzbek

 
 Message 1 of 32
25 August 2007 at 10:23am | IP Logged 
For forum members able to read German, here's a brief story about a 22-year-old German student of "IndoGermanistik" who knows 35 languages.

http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/campus/661053/drucken/
2 persons have voted this message useful



Marc Frisch
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 4925 days ago

1001 posts - 1169 votes 
Speaks: German*, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Italian
Studies: Persian, Tamil

 
 Message 2 of 32
25 August 2007 at 4:48pm | IP Logged 
Very impressive. It would be interesting to know which languages he speaks. They Pashto, Persian, Urdu, and some others, but don't give a full list. Apparently he's really into Middle Eastern languages.
1 person has voted this message useful



daristani
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5404 days ago

738 posts - 1635 votes 
Studies: Uzbek

 
 Message 3 of 32
25 August 2007 at 7:14pm | IP Logged 
I was also a bit disappointed that they didn't get into what languages he knows, but I suspect that, given his field of study, they likely include a lot of dead Indo-European languages that might well be classified as dialects as well as languages, and for which a reading knowledge alone may be considered sufficient. Still, and especially in light of his young age, I wouldn't want to take anything away from him. He's clearly an extraordinary individual. (I also like the fact that he attributes it to long hours of hard work; no matter how gifted a person may be, I don't think you learn languages well unless you put in a lot of hours.)

I was reminded of another such individual, a bit further along in his career, Jost Gippert. Here's a popular article on him that I recently ran across (also in German):



http://www.fr-online.de/in_und_ausland/wissen_und_bildung/ak tuell/?em_cnt=1184365&sid=916ad964f1c4183eb947e812541084d2
2 persons have voted this message useful



Zorndyke
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 5218 days ago

374 posts - 382 votes 
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: Czech

 
 Message 4 of 32
26 August 2007 at 2:59am | IP Logged 
Gippert's claims sound odd to me. He says he doesn't know how many languages he speaks, because after 100 he stopped counting. He says he can't speak all of them fluently, but he can understand the spoken forms of all those languages and read them fluently.

Edited by Zorndyke on 26 August 2007 at 2:59am

1 person has voted this message useful



daristani
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5404 days ago

738 posts - 1635 votes 
Studies: Uzbek

 
 Message 5 of 32
26 August 2007 at 9:38am | IP Logged 
I suspect that, in the cases of both Heine and Gippert, the distinction between linguists/philologists, on the one hand, and polyglots on the other, likely applies, at least to some degree. The former, based on the needs of their professions, may develop in-depth knowledge of several languages, but because they often focus more on either theoretical issues (linguists) or comparative studies (philologists), knowledge ABOUT the language, or indeed a number of languages, may be more important to them than developing advanced-level fluency.

Gippert used to run a seminar on Zazaki (an Iranian language, similar to Kurdish, spoken in Turkey) at Frankfurt University. I once saw him deliver a speech to a gathering of Zazas on his theory that Zazaki had descended from Parthian. He gave his presentation in German, and I very much doubt that he could have done it in Zazaki. So in speaking of the language knowledge of such people, I think we have to recognize that they often don't speak the languages they work on all that fluently. I saw the same thing with some of my university professors, who were well known as scholars, but in some cases knew the languages almost entirely from books, and couldn't really speak at all. I was pretty critical of this at the time, but now recognize I should have been a bit more tolerant: when these people learned the languages, audio/video/internet materials weren't available, and given the Cold War conditions that prevailed, you couldn't go off to Mongolia and places very easily to learn them on the spot. Also, as noted above, their main focus was not on spoken fluency, but on historical/comparative studies, etc., for which written materials were key.

As for forgetting the number of languages one knows, this doesn't strike me as so odd, in that I suspect a lot of us have "played with" various languages just to see that they're like, without having studied them in depth, to the extent that, especially if we have a knowledge of related languages/dialects, we can put a few simple sentences together and understand similar constructions, partially from what we've learned about the language(s) in question and partially by "triangulation" from related tongues. To what degree one counts these varies from individual to individual, I suspect, although I generally think it preferable to speaking of "knowing a little of" languages rather than simply "knowing" them, unless I'm really pretty confident in the languages in question.

In general, though, I think that, except for a very small number of truly extraordinary genius types, the Law of Strawberry Jam applies to language study: the wider you spread it, the thinner it gets.
3 persons have voted this message useful



FSI
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4619 days ago

550 posts - 590 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 6 of 32
26 August 2007 at 9:51am | IP Logged 
daristani wrote:
the Law of Strawberry Jam applies to language study: the wider you spread it, the thinner it gets.


Agreed!
1 person has voted this message useful



zorglub
Pentaglot
Senior Member
France
Joined 5260 days ago

441 posts - 503 votes 
1 sounds
Speaks: French*, English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: German, Arabic (Written), Turkish, Mandarin

 
 Message 7 of 32
28 August 2007 at 2:31pm | IP Logged 
FSI wrote:
daristani wrote:
the Law of Strawberry Jam applies to language study: the wider you spread it, the thinner it gets.


Agreed!

Agreed too, Had I spent the same time on just one language, I would speak it much better. But I'm happier with speaking more languages worse...
1 person has voted this message useful



castiwo
Newbie
Joined 4530 days ago

2 posts - 4 votes

 
 Message 8 of 32
25 September 2007 at 4:47pm | IP Logged 
I meet Sebastian Heine often. Here I witness that his ability to read and write apart, he can speak very well too in a lot of languages. With me he speaks in close-to-fluent-Urdu. He has been practicing Pashto with a colleague of mine who is 'pathan'.
To my surprise, today we were all sitting together, with an other mate of our who is 'sindhi' and Sebastian was communicating with the three of us in all the three different languages, not only that, he was also translating the stuff to one another. He is so skilled that he was able to crack multiple jokes on the occasion and we couldn't control our laughter.


3 persons have voted this message useful



This discussion contains 32 messages over 4 pages: 2 3 4  Next >>


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.6719 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2020 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.