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Fictional Polyglots

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Super Polyglot
Joined 6524 days ago

9078 posts - 16473 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
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 Message 73 of 82
01 July 2012 at 4:32pm | IP Logged 
Ikarias wrote:
What about Salvatore, from "Il nome della rosa"? He speaks and mixes Latin, German, French, Italian, English and Spanish (I think).

..and for Salvatore and his tribe this forum has got that mysterious tag "penitenziagite"
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United States
Joined 4430 days ago

15 posts - 21 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 Message 74 of 82
25 July 2012 at 12:39am | IP Logged 
This may already be mentioned but Michael Westen the lead character in "Burn Notice" seems to speak several languages including Russian and Arabic.
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William Camden
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 6093 days ago

1936 posts - 2333 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Spanish, Russian, Turkish, French

 Message 75 of 82
23 August 2012 at 5:33pm | IP Logged 
unch wrote:
When reading the Count of Montecristo by Alexandre Dumas, I remember being impressed when I learnt that some characters were multilingual. I got really exited at the idea as I could only speak English at the time and wished that I were also familiar with different languages

If I remember correctly however, there were some inconsistencies relating to this. Early on in the novel Dantes is said to speak, maybe, 4 languages, as a result of a sailor's life or growing up at an international port.

Then later when Dantes meets the Abbe, he is awe stricken that the Abbe speaks several languages - 5 modern languages (French, German, Italian, English and Spanish) + some Greek learned with the aid of ancient Greek. I think it can be assumed that he also spoke Latin?

I believe that the Abbe subsequently teaches Dantes some or all of his languages.

The Abbe Faria thinks about 1,000 words in a foreign language is enough for basic communication. This is the advice he gives Dantes.

Dumas wrote the novel in serial form, and it is quite long. There is some inconsistency in the depiction of the characters - Dumas probably forgot some of the details he ascribed to characters as the novel moved along.
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United States
Joined 5353 days ago

2615 posts - 8806 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 76 of 82
10 September 2012 at 4:31pm | IP Logged 
The following quotes are from Captain Vorpartil's Alliance, a forthcoming
science-fiction novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. It's actually a romance, with assassins
and explosions to keep things lively.

The main characters are Tej and Ivan. Tej is the daughter a recently-deposed crime
lord. She's gone into hiding with her half-sister Rish to avoid bounty hunters. Ivan
Vorpartil is a young military officer (and determined bachelor) who saves Tej's life by
marrying her. They plan to divorce in a couple of weeks, but somewhere along the way
they fall in love…

Tej is the polyglot. She learns languages for fun, and she's good at it. Ivan
Vorpartil comes from the planet Barrayar, which has four surviving languages:

“The smallest of our main languages,” he told her. “The Firsters actually
arrived in four disparate settlement groups—Russian, British, French and Greek, as
their home regions on Old Earth were back then. Over the centuries of the Time of
Isolation, everyone pretty much blended together genetically—founder effect, you know—
but they kept up those languages, which still gave folks plenty to fight

Tej is bored, and decides to learn the local dialects:

At one of Admiral Desplains’s suggestions, Tej also discovered the on-board
language tutoring programs, and dipped into the Barrayaran dialects of Russian, French
and Greek, none of which she claimed to have been taught before. Or plunged into, Ivan
thought, when he ducked his head in to check her progress. So far from a trudge, she
seemed to find the task tolerably amusing.

“Oh, languages aren’t work,” she explained cheerily. “They’re a game. Now, economics,
that’s boring.” She made a face at some pedagogical memory Ivan couldn’t guess at.

For almost the first time, Ivan saw a glimpse in her of her haut genetic heritage, not
only in the scary speed of her acquisition, but the purity of her accent, as she
wandered around the ship to find bemused bilingual crewmen to practice upon. Her
Komarran accent had certainly fooled him, and presumably the Komarrans as well. No
question, she had a keen ear, and he wondered if she possessed perfect pitch, too, like
a certain part-ghem Barrayaran he knew.

Tej tries out her new skills, and explains why she loves learning languages, even
though reliable machine translators exist:

Yawning, he dragged on trousers and went in search of caffeine. Tej was in the
comconsole niche, talking to someone—a Barrayaran, a commercial clerk of some sort,
apparently. She switched to Barrayaran Russian in mid-sentence; the man brightened and
became more voluble. And cooperative? In any case, her business was concluded by the
time Ivan came back with a steaming mug in his hand.

Ivan nodded at the comconsole. “How did you know that fellow’s mother tongue? He had a
pretty urban accent.”

Tej gestured to the now-blank vid-plate. “I can hear it in their voices. Can’t you?”

“Accents, sure. But he sounded pure Vorbarr Sultana to me.”

“Not really. I haven’t got all the District dialect variations sorted out yet, though.
Sixty-times-four plus South Continent. I have to pick up more local geography.”

“Do you expect to? Sort them all out?”

She shrugged. “If I’m here long enough, they’ll sort themselves.”

“Tej…” He wanted to follow up that ambiguous-sounding if I’m here long enough, but
stuck to his first thought. “How many languages do you speak?”

“I dunno.” Her nose wrinkled. “Since I came here—nine?”

“That’s a lot.”

“Not really. Good translator earbugs will handle hundreds. Why bother making work out
of it, when the ones you need likely won’t be the ones you learned anyway? I never even
heard of Barrayaran Russian before I came here. Or your local Greek dialect, which is
pretty corrupt—well, altered—see, I didn’t say mutated. I mean, learning them yourself
isn’t a practical hobby. The earbugs do it better.” A crooked smile. “Kind of fun,
though. I like fun.”

“Fun,” said Ivan, bemusedly reflecting on all the lack of fun he’d had in his school
language drills.

I like the fact that Tej actually studies languages, and doesn't just
mysteriously speak them. I'm also impressed that she learns unprestigious regional
dialects for fun when she could just use a translator device.

You can find the first six chapters of Captain
Vorpartil's Alliance
online at Baen's website. The paper version of the book will
be available in a few months, but you can currently buy a DRM-free(!) "eARC" in
Mobi/EPUB/HTML/etc. format.

This book is part of a long and excellent series, though you should be able to read it
as a standalone novel. If you want to begin at the beginning, I recommend either
Cordelia's Honor (for folks who like romance novels) or The Warrior's
(for folks who prefer lots of explosions).
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Senior Member
United States
Joined 4421 days ago

232 posts - 287 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Japanese, Mandarin

 Message 77 of 82
15 September 2012 at 5:03am | IP Logged 
For any anime nerds out there, Ichinose Kotomi of clannad speaks Japanese, French and learns English...
also, Sakagami Tomoyo Makes a speach in English even though it makes no sense at times

oh, and the Merovingian from the matrix "Ive sampled every language and french is my favorite to curse with" :P

Edited by zerrubabbel on 15 September 2012 at 5:08am

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SpainRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4572 days ago

80 posts - 173 votes 
Speaks: English*, Ancient Greek, Latin, German, Spanish
Studies: Mandarin, Hungarian, French

 Message 78 of 82
15 September 2012 at 9:26pm | IP Logged 
ronp wrote:
Bourne (Matt Damon) also speaks some Dutch in the first movie, when washing his face and
looking in the mirror.

Haha, I just assumed he was pronouncing German really poorly.
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Senior Member
Joined 5094 days ago

81 posts - 180 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German, French

 Message 79 of 82
28 September 2012 at 5:58am | IP Logged 
Not actually a polyglot, but in the movie Groundhog Day, the main character, Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) is caught in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over again. (It is not clear how long he is trapped in the loop. But it is at least several years, possibly several decades.) After indulging himself for some time, he eventually learns to use the time wisely, and sets about to improve himself. Among other accomplishments, he learns French.

One wonders what some of the members on this forum would do with such an opportunity.
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Joined 6836 days ago

3795 posts - 4268 votes 
Speaks: Spanish, English*
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 Message 80 of 82
01 October 2012 at 1:07am | IP Logged 
palfrey wrote:
One wonders what some of the members on this forum would do with such an opportunity.

I'm sure that the learning would definitely not just be resticted to French...

Edited by patuco on 01 October 2012 at 1:08am

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