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Off topic: who is the most multilingual?
Thread poster: Will Matter
Will Matter  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:12
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
curious Sep 8, 2003

Curious as to EXACTLY how one takes longer than one lifetime to master a language and feel as if my present abilities have, somehow, been slighted. Not only that, everyone else managed to contribute something, with one notable exception, the question was misunderstood, misconstrued and ended in a meaningless logical fallacy.

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alz  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 06:12
English to Croatian
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My grandfather Sep 9, 2003

My grandfather was born at the and of 19th century in Rijeka (Fiume), croatian city, that time part of Austro-Hungarian Empire and under Hungarian jurisdiction (Fiume Varos). He was speaking croatian, italian, german and hungarian since his early childhood, what was not unusual in Rijeka between 19th and 20 century.
He was educated in Wienna in an institute where french was the teaching language. He learnd czhec and english.
Some years he lived in Bucarest and I suppose he was able to speak or to understand romanian too.
And all this before he turned 40.
I heard him speaking russian not in one occasion. How and where did he learned it I never asked.
He died in 1976 at the age of 90.


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Will Matter  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:12
English
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sounds like ten languages to me Sep 9, 2003

Very nice. Hvala, danke, bedankt, grazie.
alz wrote:

My grandfather was born at the and of 19th century in Rijeka (Fiume), croatian city, that time part of Austro-Hungarian Empire and under Hungarian jurisdiction (Fiume Varos). He was speaking croatian, italian, german and hungarian since his early childhood, what was not unusual in Rijeka between 19th and 20 century.
He was educated in Wienna in an institute where french was the teaching language. He learnd czhec and english.
Some years he lived in Bucarest and I suppose he was able to speak or to understand romanian too.
And all this before he turned 40.
I heard him speaking russian not in one occasion. How and where did he learned it I never asked.
He died in 1976 at the age of 90.


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Valentina Pecchiar  Identity Verified
Italy
Member
English to Italian
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This is the very richness of border areas Sep 9, 2003

alz wrote:
My grandfather was born at the and of 19th century in Rijeka (Fiume), croatian city, that time part of Austro-Hungarian Empire and under Hungarian jurisdiction (Fiume Varos) ...


Or, should I say, areas perpetually *across* the border.
I was born and raised not far from Rijeka (though on the other side of the border - at that time: 2 borders away from you now) and stories (almost) like your grandfather's are not uncommon.
My grandma used not to remember in what language she had been to school (elementary level): as a young girl, depending on the situation, she would speak Italian, German (because of Austrian empire), Slovenian and both the local Slovenian and Venician-like dialect. She was no linguist at all: she just lived in a place where switching between languages was daily life, and later on even a rule of safety.

Sorry if I managed to get off-topic in the off-topic forum.


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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:12
German to English
+ ...
Occident express.... Sep 10, 2003

Subhamay Ray wrote:

occidental languages like Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Chinese, Arabic and Persian as well as many Indian languages.


It may be eurocentric, but these languages are usually considered to be oriental languages.


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vladex  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:12
Polish
+ ...
related languages Sep 10, 2003

-Bosnian
-Serbian
-Croatian

Don't take it personal, but I think, that there is a difference between bilingual person speaking Serbian/Croatian or Dutch/Flemish or Lower Sorbian/Upper Sorbian and the like and a bilingual person speaking, for example, Catalan and Vietnamese... (And due to political state of some languages, it is diffucult to find a person who speaks Catalan and doesn't speak Spanish, speaks Cassubian and doesn't speak Polish etc. )

[Edited at 2003-09-10 12:23]


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Said Kaljanac a.k.a. SARAJ  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 06:12
Bosnian to French
+ ...
You are right Sep 10, 2003

vladex wrote:

-Bosnian
-Serbian
-Croatian

Don't take it personal, but I think, that there is a difference between bilingual person speaking Serbian/Croatian or Dutch/Flemish or Lower Sorbian/Upper Sorbian and the like and a bilingual person speaking, for example, Catalan and Vietnamese... (And due to political state of some languages, it is diffucult to find a person who speaks Catalan and doesn't speak Spanish, speaks Cassubian and doesn't speak Polish etc. )

[Edited at 2003-09-10 12:23]











You are right, nevertheless even if you consider Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian as one language (I do), you still have to be able to read Serbian cyrillic in adition to the latin alphabet and to dissociate the differences and standards. As you noticed I do not translate into Croatian, because this language is in process of changing its standard and I must admit that I would not be able to translate into today Croatian standard language.

Now, officially those languages have different standards and are considered as different languages.

I can re-formulate the answer for you concerning the translation:

Thus I translate from:

Bosnian (Croatian and Serbian included)
Russian
English
French

into:

French
Bosnian (Serbian included)

Is that a little bit better?

Thanks for your remark,

Cheers,

Said


p.s. By the way check my first posting and you will see that I already said that I consider Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian + some dialects from former Yugoslavia as one language among other four that I was mentioning.



[Edited at 2003-09-10 14:42]


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Mario Marcolin  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:12
Member (2003)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Different, but... Sep 10, 2003

I see your point, but I do not agree entirely.
Keeping two similar languages (or dialects)apart is not always that simple..
Being bilingual in - you example - Catalan and Vietnamese is indeed a feat, but it is no less to be bilingual in say, Danish and Swedish, just different.

Best regards,
Mario

vladex wrote:
Don't take it personal, but I think, that there is a difference between bilingual person speaking Serbian/Croatian or Dutch/Flemish or Lower Sorbian/Upper Sorbian and the like and a bilingual person speaking, for example, Catalan and Vietnamese...


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vladex  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:12
Polish
+ ...
not personal Sep 11, 2003

Said Kaljanac a.k.a. SARAJ wrote:
You are right, nevertheless even if you consider Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian as one language (I do),

So do I, but it may lead to political discussions and I'd like to avoid it...


I can re-formulate the answer for you concerning the translation:


I've written: Don't take it personal



bye


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Said Kaljanac a.k.a. SARAJ  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 06:12
Bosnian to French
+ ...
Don't worry Sep 11, 2003

vladex wrote:

Said Kaljanac a.k.a. SARAJ wrote:
You are right, nevertheless even if you consider Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian as one language (I do),

So do I, but it may lead to political discussions and I'd like to avoid it...


I can re-formulate the answer for you concerning the translation:


I've written: Don't take it personal



bye








Don't worry, I didn't take it personal, I just reformulated the answer in case you didn't see my first posting.

If you want to talk about those languages don't be afraid of political issues. As a matter of fact, politics did not solve anything on the linguistical level in those countries. Nevertheless it is completely possible to talk about them without involving politics. Just talking about historico-linguistical facts.

Everyone has the right to express his/her opinion on a linguistical matter as long as you don't try to impose your point of view to others.

SARAJ


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Thierry LOTTE  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:12
Member (2001)
English to French
+ ...
Liz Taylor ??? Sep 11, 2003

I think that the super champion of polyglots were Sir Richard Francis Burton!

I already spoke about him in a previous Forum and I have a great admiration for this man (in spite of his unaceptable racism and antisemitism), a great explorator, adventurer, geographist (discoverer of the Nile sources), and “Translator”. He translated (without censuring it!) the famous “ 1001 Nights Fairy Tales”.

Here is a link in spanish (no time to find other ones in english but I am prettely sure that there is a bunch of it ).

http://www.lector.net/lectornet.htm?http://www.lector.net/phyoct98/burton.htm&1


He mastered 25 languages and 40 dialects! Who says better??? *

Nothing to do with Sir Richard Burton, a famous welsh actor, who just have succeeded to (more or less)master Elisabeth Taylor…

(*) – Did I won something ?

PS (off-topic) : Some famous poets and novelists would have starved to death if they would not have made translations to live.
The great Portuguese poet and novelist Fernando Pessoa was, basically, a translator…
For the ones who understand Portuguese, please do consult a recent posting on the Portuguese Forum.



[Edited at 2003-09-11 23:27]

[Edited at 2003-09-11 23:33]

[Edited at 2003-09-12 03:58]

[Edited at 2003-09-12 15:23]


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Will Matter  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:12
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks!!! Sep 12, 2003

I was already aware of this example but you're right, an amazing individual in so many ways, adventurer, explorer, bon vivant, definitely multilingual, would've been a GREAT ProZ member
Thierry LOTTE wrote:

I think that the super champion of polyglots were Sir Richard Francis Burton!

I already spoke about him in a previous Forum and I have a great admiration for this man (in spite of is unaceptable racism and antisemitism), a great explorator, adventurer, geographist (discoverer of the Nile sources), and “Translator”. He translated (without censuring it!) the famous “ 1001 Nights Fairy Tales”.

Here is a link in spanish (no time to find other ones in english but I am prettely sure that there is a bunch of it ).

http://www.lector.net/lectornet.htm?http://www.lector.net/phyoct98/burton.htm&1


He dominated 25 languages and 40 dialects! Who says better??? *

Nothing to do with Sir Richard Burton, a famous welsh actor, who just have succeeded to dominate Liz Taylor…

(*) – Did I won something ?

PS (off-topic) : Some famous poets and novelists would have starved to death if they would not have made translations to live.
The great Portuguese poet and novelist Fernando Pessoa was, basically, a translator…
For the ones who understand Portuguese, please do consult a recent posting on the Portuguese Forum.



[Edited at 2003-09-11 23:27]

[Edited at 2003-09-11 23:33]


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Said Kaljanac a.k.a. SARAJ  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 06:12
Bosnian to French
+ ...
Translation vs Racism Sep 12, 2003

[quote]willmatter wrote:

I was already aware of this example but you're right, an amazing individual in so many ways, adventurer, explorer, bon vivant, definitely multilingual, would've been a GREAT ProZ member [quote]Thierry LOTTE wrote:

I think that the super champion of polyglots were Sir Richard Francis Burton!

I already spoke about him in a previous Forum and I have a great admiration for this man (in spite of is unaceptable racism and antisemitism), ...






I don't think that he would have been a great proZ memeber simply because of his unacceptable racism and antisemitism. Despite all his qualities, the negative side of him can't find a place on a multicultural and multiethnic site as proZ.
By the way I can't understand how is it possible to know so many languages, to go places, learn so many things and in the same time be so dumb blind?! I always thought that languages allow us to learn not only the language itself but the whole cultural background. A language is a key allowing you to unlock the door of ignorance. Once you open that door, (and more than 25 doors in Burton's case) how can you scorn or hate the cultural wealth and knowledge that this door was hiding?

In addition he was a translator!!! I have just one question, what if St. Jerome was racist or even antisemite? Don't get me wrong, I am not saying St. Jerome was a racist, but just imagine what if.
Racism and translation don't match together.


Cheers

SARAJ


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Paola Dentifrigi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:12
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Ok... Sep 12, 2003

willmatter wrote:

if you speak this many or more and care to respond with details or comments, please feel free. [...]

Hi, I'm new on the forum!
I'll just write my personal experience.
I am mother tongue Italian (from Tuscany, no dialect alas!), I speak English, French, Romanian and Polish, some Russian and Spanish. My German and Croatian are pretty bad and my Bulgarian and Slovenian had a very short life: they died in their early childhood.
Anyway, in the last 3 years I decided to concentrate on the first four... sorry the first five. I try not to neglect Italian.

When I was 6 and Karol Wojtyla was elected pope I heard the guy could speak 7 languages. Well, I thought, in my life I want to speak as many languages as the pope. I hadn't the faintest idea I had to learn his tricky mother tongue as well

Cheers,

Paola


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 00:12
SITE FOUNDER
One member who enjoys studying many languages Sep 12, 2003

willmatter wrote:

I WAS going to ask this question yesterday also but was a little afraid of 'opening a can of worms'/starting something that might not end, buuuut, since someone else brought it up...:) I wonder if there IS any way to accurately determine this given that we are a highly diverse community of 51K people (more or less) who are, by definition, multilingual. Maybe a moderator or Henry can tell us, maybe not. By the way, i have received *numerous* responses to this question, including lots of email and may publish a brief synopsis of the results once everyone has had a chance to respond. At this point the bench mark for members is 6 languages or above, so if you speak this many or more and care to respond with details or comments, please feel free.
Lorenzo Lilli wrote:

By the way, who's the best polyglot in proz? Please be honest and don't just show off!


I have no idea who is the most poly of the glots here, but one person who comes to mind as passionate about monolingualism is Peter Wright of Wright Translation:

http://www.proz.com/translators/10751 http://www.wrighttranslation.com/peterwright.htm

Perhaps there are others at ProZ.com with similar interest or abilities. I noticed Peter only because we have met in person.


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