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Panglottery and Language Choice

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
34 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 35  Next >>
casamata
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Studies: Portuguese

 
 Message 25 of 34
31 May 2013 at 7:16am | IP Logged 
Wanabe wrote:
Hi Casamata:

"If two guys study languages and devote the same energy and time to them, but one speaks 10 at B1 level and the other 3 at C2 level, I contend that they are equal. More isn't always better. Quality matters too."

Though I see your point and I too believe that quality is important, I respectfully disagree with your statement. The root word Pan means all. So given your argument the ten at B1 level would in my mind, best fit the definition. At B1 you can communicate and you esentialy have the tools to learn the rest with practice.

I would say the wider the scope of your education the better. On each continent there are myriads who do not speak even a 2nd much less, a third language. If you have the basics in 5, 10 or more languages you have the means of communicating to many more monolinguals.

Sincerely, Wanabe




I see your point!

I was just trying to put out what I thought was the best combination if you are short on time or energy. Obviously if you knew 20 languages at a proficient level (B1 or B2+?) you would be able to talk to more people, but more realistically, that probably won't happen.

Another thing I was pointing out was that it is hard to have active levels in all components of the language all the time. I know that Dr. Arguelles used to have a high level in many languages, although he mostly focused on reading and writing. However, I would doubt that he would be able to use 30 languages at his high level in the same day in all aspects.

Just a biased viewpoint, but I think the limit to the number of languages would be how many could you know while still retaining a reasonable amount of your knowledge every day. For C1 level knowledge, maybe 10?

Maintenance is a bitch.
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Serpent
Octoglot
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Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
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Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
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 Message 26 of 34
31 May 2013 at 9:07am | IP Logged 
You're too keen on the B1 vs C1 thing. There are many learners who understand (almost) everything but can't speak at a C1/C2 level. Imo, a purely B1 level is quite useless, as it's not enough for enjoying L2 media, but a combination of B1 active+C1 passive is very doable, even 10x.
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tarvos
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Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 27 of 34
31 May 2013 at 9:18am | IP Logged 
Also, 3 C1 languages is more than possible, even more than that is possible. I knew
someone who was (simply through school education and the first 18 years of her life)
fluent in 4 (!) languages, and spoke another one decently well (though I am not sure
how well she read it, as this was Hebrew), and understood another. Her brother had a
slightly similar language distribution plus that he had spent a year in Spain and spoke
fluent Spanish (and also has travelled Latin America).

Given time she could easily be fluent in six languages, only she chose to focus on
something else.

More than three C1/C2 is very possible. Once you get to 5, 6, 7 it starts tailing off.
But you can get to 6 or so. Keep in mind, she spoke the language of her surroundings
where she lived, a heritage language, the language of the country she was born in and
lived for the first nine years, and English through the international school. She also
spent time at a Jewish school, where she learned Hebrew, and the other language of the
country.

4 at C1/C2 is simply very possible.

Edited by tarvos on 31 May 2013 at 9:39am

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Iversen
Super Polyglot
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berejst.dk
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 Message 28 of 34
31 May 2013 at 10:24am | IP Logged 
I think we should consider the difference between writing and speaking. I would say that I can speak about a dozen languages, although some are somewhat rusty - which doesn't mean I can't speak them without warning, but just that I have trouble recalling some words and therefore have to find something else to say instead in order not to get stuck. However I can write in somewhere around twenty languages and read a number beyond that, included antiquated language forms and dialects (which makes it difficult to give an exact number). Which number is more relevant for me, given that I hardly ever speak foreign languages at home - not even English?

There is certain a trade-off between quantity and quality, but the relation is certainly not a simple one like half as many languages, twice the quality of each one. Related languages have a tendency to support each other due to shared vocabulary, grammatical parallels (or the opposite) and an improved versatility. However this effect is also noticeable when you learn more distantly related languages. Besides there is a ironhard law of diminishing returns which also is valid for language learning.

But by even discussing this tradeoff we have moved away from the central point in the notion of panglottery, namely that you ideally should try to learn as many radically different languages as possible (i.e. many language families rather than many language within a few families). And then the tradeoff it not between many languages and quality of each language, but between quality obtained by culling a certain number of languages from many widely dispersed families versus learning only closely related languages.

And there my preference has historically been to learn all languages in certain families, and that's more or less what I have done with the Germanic and the Romance languages. But the situation now is actually that I in addition to that have active projects in the Slavic, Hellenic, Celtic, Austronesian and artificial languages, each represented by just one language (Russian, Modern Greek, Irish, Bahasa Indonesia and Esperanto). I hope to learn more languages in each of these groups later, but the situation right now has actually developed more in the direction of panglottery than I am comfortable with. My intended goal is still to learn families rather than isolated languages, but the reality right now is a combination of the family and the 'isolate' strategy. And I see that as an irritating factor rather than something to be encouraged.

Edited by Iversen on 31 May 2013 at 10:35am

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Sterogyl
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
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152 posts - 263 votes 
Studies: German*, French, EnglishC2
Studies: Japanese, Norwegian

 
 Message 29 of 34
31 May 2013 at 10:34am | IP Logged 
I also know one polyglot (fluent in Japanese, German, English, French) who has a Japanese mother and a German father, had an English speaking nanny plus English classes at school and has lived for a few years in Belgium during her teenage years. The polyglot I'm talking about didn't even make an effort to learn all these languages, but simply assimilated them. This kind of situation is not comparable to an adult polyglot who sits at home studying with Assimil.

I think you can reach C1/C2 in some languages, but it depends on the degree of relationship to one's own language. As an English or German native speaker, you can over many years reach C1 in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, but not in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Swahili and Cantonese in one lifetime.
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tarvos
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 Message 30 of 34
31 May 2013 at 10:35am | IP Logged 
For me the choice is more based on where I would enjoy travelling to, where I have
friends. I would like to cover a reasonable part of the globe, but not necessarily at
all cost (else I would have started Spanish long ago). My curiosity is also piqued by
smaller languages which have more interesting phenomena to study (for example how
Romanian uses the infinitive very little compared to the other Romance languages, and
is beset by Slavic loans as opposed to Germanic ones for French).

Some are based on practical availability, i.e. I got German, Latin, English and French
at school, so I took them.

Some are big languages that I enjoy the culture of and am fascinated with (Russian),
and some are smaller in this respect but still have a big worldwide impact (Hebrew).
Some are completist (Icelandic for the Germanic family, also because I have travelled
there before).

Some are because I believe in a cause (supporting the minority language of Breton).

It can be anything, but even with my current spread, I cover a large part of the world.

Quote:
This kind of situation is not comparable to an adult polyglot who sits at home
studying with Assimil.


It isn't, but then you are doing it wrong if you want to become a polyglot. To become a
polyglot *is* to learn how to assimilate these languages throughout your life. If you
are fortunate to be born in circumstances where you go through these motions at a young
age, then you get the skills at a young age (her brother picked up Spanish within a
year, for example). This assimilation is an environment you have the power to
create
. And you can do this for the languages you mentioned as well as related
ones, but yes, it will take a bit more time.

Edited by tarvos on 31 May 2013 at 10:38am

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Sterogyl
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 2798 days ago

152 posts - 263 votes 
Studies: German*, French, EnglishC2
Studies: Japanese, Norwegian

 
 Message 31 of 34
31 May 2013 at 10:48am | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:

Quote:
This kind of situation is not comparable to an adult polyglot who sits at home
studying with Assimil.


It isn't, but then you are doing it wrong if you want to become a polyglot. To become a
polyglot *is* to learn how to assimilate these languages throughout your life.


Yes, of course. I actually meant "language learner" or "aspiring polyglot", since a polyglot is somebody who already masters several languages (okay, this is not everyone's opinion). But you have to start somewhere.
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tarvos
Super Polyglot
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 Message 32 of 34
31 May 2013 at 10:58am | IP Logged 
In my opinion I myself wouldn't qualify as a polyglot. And there are people who walk
this earth who have described me as such. I would describe myself as a wayward
language-enthusiastic engineer :)

But an aspiring polyglot is just a polyglot who hasn't got there yet. :) In my opinion,
if you want to become a polyglot, then learning how to assimilate, recognise linguistic
patterns, and develop your ability to notice is part of the plot. That's a skill you
simply need to learn. And far be it from me to discourage somebody's dream should they
want to cover a lot of "exotic" (don't like this term) languages marginally or
unrelated to their native tongue.

If someone wants to learn Chinese and is motivated, then they will, by hook or by
crook, learn it. And I will not stop them. Or say that Spanish is easier, And if they
want to include Swahili, Russian, and Malagasy, then I will encourage them there too. I
see no reason to bias towards languages closer to ourselves because they're more
transparent immediately. I also see no reason to proclaim languages as more "difficult"
as it doesn't help in producing the mindset - I always focus on what you can learn,
rather than what you cannot.


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