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Terutoyo Taneda: 20 languages

 Language Learning Forum : Polyglots Post Reply
16 messages over 2 pages: 1 2  Next >>
Senior Member
Joined 6276 days ago

284 posts - 466 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Japanese
Studies: Russian, Norwegian

 Message 1 of 16
22 March 2007 at 12:18am | IP Logged 
Has anyone heard of a Japanese polyglot named Terutoyo Taneda? It is said that he can speak 20 languages fluently. I came across some information about him on a Japanese website, but there seems to be very little written about him in English. Apparently he wrote a book in Japanese called 「20ヶ国語ぺらぺら」("Fluent in 20 Languages") in 1969 and then pretty much disappeared. His book seems to be somewhat well-known amongst aspiring polyglots in Japan. It is thought that he now resides in the United States, but no one really knows what (if anything) he has been doing with his languages, whether he has learned anymore languages, etc. Apparently he had learned over half of his 20 languages by the age of 20, and all 20 of them by the age of 30. The above-mentioned Japanese website included the following chart (the years on the left refer to the year in which he began studying each language):

1951(12 y.o.): English(Junior High Grade 1)
1954(15 y.o.): French(High School Grade 1)
1955(16 y.o.): Swedish, German, Russian (High School Grade 2 with Study Abroad in the USA)
1956(17 y.o.): Finnish (High School Grade 2)
1957(18 y.o.): Dutch, Chinese(High School Grade 3)
1959(20 y.o.): Italian, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic(College Freshman)
1960(21 y.o.): Persian, Turkish(College Sophomore)、Spanish
1965(26 y.o.): Portuguese
1966(27 y.o.): Latin, Greek
1967(28 y.o.): Czchech, Indonesian, Romanian, Korean, Arabic
1969(30): "Fluent in 20 Languages" is published.

Kind of interesting, eh?

For anyone who can read Japanese, here's a link to that website:
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Senior Member
United States
Joined 6254 days ago

946 posts - 1110 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, German
Studies: Sign Language

 Message 2 of 16
22 March 2007 at 5:17am | IP Logged 
Thanks for the info, janalisa!

I wonder where he found time to study multiple languages in college?

Are there translations of his book available in English? I tried Googling it, but I didn't have much success.
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