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Babel No More / Mezzofanti’s Gift

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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Fasulye
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 Message 57 of 149
12 January 2012 at 7:22pm | IP Logged 
My book review of "Babel No More"

The key (EDIT) of this book is that it presents a topic which has not scientifically been explored before. In his book Michael Erard informs the readers that also the Swedish hyperpolyglot Eric Gunnemark was working on a book with the title "Polyglottery Today", but he couldn't finish his book and meanwhile he passed away. The second main reason why I wanted to read this book is that I am myself involved in the whole "polyglottery game". I participated in the online-survey because the initial threshold for hyperpolyglots was "6 and more languages", so I myself fitted in this group.

The book begins with the historic hyperpolyglots such as Cardinal Mezzofanti and Emil Krebs and also some American people whose names I have never heard of. The second part of the book deals about interviews with living hyperpolyglots of which the most wellknown one in this forum is Alexander Arguelles and his father Ivan Arguelles.

I personally am more interested in the living hyperpolyglots and their way of life and their attitudes towards language learning. With great interest I read the author's description of the linguistic situation in southern India where multilingual people belong to the norm. Also the situation of Belgium is presented with example hyperpolyglots who were winners in the polyglot contest of Belgium. However, I miss a description of the multilingual situation of Switzerland and Luxemburg here.

The whole book is written in an anecdotal style, that means that one (well-researched!) anecdote follows the next. It's not a scientific textbook which is presented here. Perhaps this makes such a book more accesible to a general audience. What I miss in this book is a detailed statistical analysis of the online - survey, but I hope that Michael Erard will add such information later on his Babel No More - website: http://www.babelnomore.com/about-the-book/

The significance of the brain and its functions is a key topic of this book. Language aptitude is mentioned and explained. Part of the online-survey were questions about whether or not somebody is a "non-righthander", homosexual, and other criteria and there are some results on the relevance of such criteria for hyperpolyglottery. Another result is that hyperpolyglottery is a male-dominated field (which I knew well before I read this book, because the whole "Polyglot Subforum" here on HTLAL is full of male polyglots being presented and discussed) - with two female exceptions named in the book: The Hungarian Kató Lomb and a woman called Helen Abadzi.

This is a kind of book which I read several times with a yellow textmarker in my hand to mark the key statements and definitons about hyperpolyglottery to be able to find them more quickly should we as forum-members and Babel-No-More-readers get the chance to communicate with Michael Erard directly in an online-session.

I am very, very thankful that finally someone took the initiative to research polyglottery/hyperpolyglottery and publish a book about it and I can recommend it to everybody whether he/she is interested in this special group of extreme language learners or just generally in the topic of language learning and how to optimize language learning methods.

Kind regards,

Fasulye

Edited by Fasulye on 13 January 2012 at 4:45pm

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jondesousa
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 Message 58 of 149
12 January 2012 at 8:55pm | IP Logged 
Thank you kindly for your review, Fasulye. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am sincerely looking forward to sitting down for several hours this weekend to dive into this book. It is admittedly a bit disappointing that some of the scientific details are missing; however, the possibility that we may later be rewarded with a discussion from the author will most definitely make up for it, I'm sure.
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Fasulye
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 Message 59 of 149
15 January 2012 at 8:22am | IP Logged 
Interesting article about the language abilities of people in the United States written by Michael Erard:

The New York Times: Are We Really Monolingual?

The trailer video of "Babel No More" featuring Alexander Arguelles

Trailer video of "Babel No More" on You Tube

Fasulye

Edited by Fasulye on 15 January 2012 at 8:35am

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Fasulye
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 Message 60 of 149
16 January 2012 at 6:22am | IP Logged 
A response video on "Babel No More" by Steve Kaufmann. He says that the book is full of "useful nuggets" written in an entertaining style.

Steve Kaufmann's You Tube video on "Babel No More"

Fasulye


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Fasulye
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 Message 61 of 149
17 January 2012 at 6:31pm | IP Logged 
Another interesting articles on "Babel No More" written by Maria Popova:

Brain Pickings: Babel No More: Inside the Secrets of Superhuman Language Learners

The Atlantic: The Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Language Learners

Fasulye



Edited by Fasulye on 22 January 2012 at 11:51am

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Michael K.
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 Message 62 of 149
17 January 2012 at 8:13pm | IP Logged 
Here's a review from Dr. Erard's Facebook page for Babel no More. The Dallas Morning News:

http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/books/20120113-book- review-babel-no-more-by-michael-erard.ece

I've read the book and would definitely recommend it.

I just wish Dr. Arguelles would come back and discuss the book with us.

Edit: Great. I hope Dr. Arguelles will discuss the book with us. He hasn't visited the forum in over a year.

Edited by Michael K. on 17 January 2012 at 11:35pm

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michael erard
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 Message 63 of 149
17 January 2012 at 8:15pm | IP Logged 
Michael, Alexander wrote me today to say that he had just received the copy of the book that I mailed him 3 weeks ago. I'm sure he'll want to talk about the book when he's had time to read it.
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meramarina
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 Message 64 of 149
17 January 2012 at 8:30pm | IP Logged 
I have just finished reading the book and have been thinking about it. It has already encouraged me to keep going with my language studies. Thanks for a wonderful read!


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