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Sebastian Heine

 Language Learning Forum : Polyglots Post Reply
32 messages over 4 pages: 1 24  Next >>
Gilgamesh
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 Message 17 of 32
13 November 2007 at 7:09am | IP Logged 
MarcFrisch,

why do you doubt that he could only speak five or six of the languages mentioned above fluently? Granted a few of those are very hard to actually 'speak' to a fluent level, like the Gothic you mentioned - but there are several living languages in there. As far as my humble knowledge goes, the good man could at least speak Pashto (which he definitely does), Ossetian, Urdu/Hindi, Farsi, Punjabi, Sindhi, Kurdish, Baluchi, Sanskrit, Uzbek, Aramaic, Arabic, French and English.
Those are definitely all 'living' languages to a degree - even Sanskrit is. The other ones, I don't know, but maybe I'll research for myself later on.
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Iversen
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 Message 18 of 32
13 November 2007 at 8:07am | IP Logged 
About half of the New Testament from Wulfilas Gothic bible is preserved (mostly in the Codex Argenteus in Uppsla, according to Wiki) - it amounts to 188 large handwritten pages. You can in principle say a lot of things using only words and constructions from that manuscript. Whether it is enough to learn to speak the language is another matter, but theoretically possible.

My immediate reaction would be to expect at least some of the languages just to be passive languages, but the point is: we simply don't know.

Edited by Iversen on 13 November 2007 at 8:15am

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Gilgamesh
Tetraglot
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 Message 19 of 32
13 November 2007 at 12:59pm | IP Logged 
Yes, according to the English Wikipedia article there are still some other documents that still made it 'til this day. There even seems to be a Wikipedia in Gothic.
So I am guessing that from all this accumulated information S.H. could have probably reached some degree in what you may call fluency.

A little off-topic, but what's extremely interesting is that there is actually a link to an online Gothic course on the German Wiki article.
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Scott Horne
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 Message 20 of 32
13 November 2007 at 1:07pm | IP Logged 
Many of the posters here, it seems, will uncritically believe any outlandish claim of ability to speak dozens or hundreds of languages. No evidence is ever sought, and conflicting evidence (such as the paucity of material available in certain scarcely attested languages) is quickly dismissed.

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Iversen
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 Message 21 of 32
13 November 2007 at 5:47pm | IP Logged 
Scott Horne wrote:
Many of the posters here, it seems, will uncritically believe any outlandish claim of ability to speak dozens or hundreds of languages. No evidence is ever sought, and conflicting evidence (such as the paucity of material available in certain scarcely attested languages) is quickly dismissed.


I still think that it is theoretically possible to learn to speak Gothic (though only about subjects covered in the New testament of Wulfila, which may even be written in a somewhat artificial variant of the 'true' Gothic language like many other Bible translations). However this doesn't tell us whether Heine did accomplish this feat or whether he just can read the language.

My personal guess is that many of the languages are just passive - the proportion of ┬┤weird┬┤languages is just too large. In fact it looks like a list of languages that a scholar might cover rather than the list for somebody who learns languages for communication - but even this is just an assumption. We simply don't know how many and which languages Heine speaks.

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Gilgamesh
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 Message 22 of 32
13 November 2007 at 7:29pm | IP Logged 
In fairness, it is probable that the 'exaggerated' claims are more likely to stem from the (mostly ignorant) journalists writing about such topics rather than from the persons they write about.

Edited by Gilgamesh on 13 November 2007 at 7:29pm

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Scott Horne
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 Message 23 of 32
13 November 2007 at 10:13pm | IP Logged 
Yes, the exaggerated claims may well be the work of a journalist or other person ignorant of the issues. I've never accused Heine of misrepresenting his skills.



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apparition
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 Message 24 of 32
13 November 2007 at 11:02pm | IP Logged 
Redacted in the interests of keeping my status as an adult!

Edited by apparition on 15 November 2007 at 6:58pm



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