This is not intended to be a FAQ page like that of a company or a celebrity, it’s just a list of those language-related questions that I get asked the most often by my family, friends, acquaintances and readers. Hopefully, my answers will be satisfactory. Should you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask me in a comment below.
You speak many languages, don’t you?
No. I’m native in Hungarian and fluent in English, but that’s it. I happen to be learning quite a few languages though, even if not simultaneously. Everybody has a personal view on what is meant by “speaking” a language. In my opinion, one can confidently say they speak a language if understanding native speakers, being perfectly understood by them, reading standard novels and writing pieces of text of similar quality to my articles (no insults please!) do not cause any problems. The last two don’t apply to children, but you know what I mean! To conclude, even the fact that I have had conversations with native French speakers is insufficient for me to say I speak French.
Which language do you think in?
That’s such an interesting question, despite the fact that I hear it way too often. For me, it depends on the circumstances, for instance my location or the language being used in my surroundings. Normally, I think in Hungarian (mainly due to spending quite a lot of time with my family), although this tends to change whenever I enter school or sit down to write articles for the blog. I recently listened to an interview with Luca Lampariello, a hyperpolyglot whose work with languages is one of my greatest sources of motivation. He was asked the following question: “When you see an apple, in what language do you see it? An apple, una mela, or lots of them at the same time?” According to him, he first sees the image and then finds the right word that suits the circumstances. My case is similar, especially in an English environment, where the habit of thinking in my native language has a powerful impact on how I process this information.
Do you prefer to speak/write in English or Hungarian?
This might be quite surprising for some, but I find it much easier to speak and write in English, then in my mother tongue. However, this may just be due to the complexity of the Hungarian language. Another possible reason is that since I’m not a native English speaker, I use English with much more confidence and do not have any fear of failing, whereas composing longer sentences in Hungarian places me in a stressful situation. I know, this is the exact opposite of what most people would expect.
What is your favourite language?
There’s no such thing as a favourite language, in my opinion. Of course, I do have preferences when it comes to the grammar, phonology etc. of languages, but the fact that every language is different and they all have some amazing features makes it impossible for me to set up an overall hierarchy. To prove my point, let me take the sounding of languages as an example. Modern Greek is my favourite language in terms of phonology, followed by French. I love how the sounds work together in order to create an impression of sophistication. With regards to tone and melody, however, Italian and Swedish are in the lead. But I could also think of phonemes on their own, and how languages use them. In this case, Finnish, Romanian and Turkish are my favourites. The possibilities are endless, but I can’t decide on one particular language which I could confidently call my favourite.
Why languages, why not maths or science?
As you may have read in my introduction, languages are my passion, my hobby and perhaps my future career. This is what enjoy the most! I prefer to choose a path which keeps me motivated through the upcoming years. To be honest, sometimes this question makes me worry, as I’m aware that the mentioned areas would benefit me more financially in the future. However, the knowledge of foreign languages is a great advantage in nearly all professions; the more you have, the higher your chances. I’m currently studying History, Communication and Culture, Sociology and English. Voilà, I still have a lot of possibilities opened up in front of me.
How many languages do you read in?
Most of the time I read in Hungarian. Novels, authobiographies, whatever seems interesting. I sometimes get to read shorter books in English as well, although the majority my English reading takes places on the computer. It was around two years ago that I stopped reading simplified books in English and moved on to standard ones (not many though). Nowadays, I sometimes take a simplified French-language novel off the shelf and spend some time with that. Furthermore, I often get to read brief texts in Modern Hebrew and Esperanto, with the aim of improving my comprehension skills. Sometimes a read a few paragraphs aloud in Greek, Italian, Swedish, German, Georgian and Korean, even though – in most cases – I don’t understand a single word I read. I only do this to practise reading and to polish my pronunciation.
Why don’t you stick to one language and put the others aside?
Behind most of the languages I am learning or have ever learnt, there’s a reason. Some of these are explained in my introduction, so please have a look at that if you haven’t already. In the cases of English, Greek, Hebrew and French, I’ve been “forced” into studying (although I had no complaints about it). Esperanto, on the other hand, has a funny story behind it. In a nutshell, I became interested in constructed languages and started my own conlanging project, basing it on the popular auxlang Esperanto. It was much later that I realised I was actually learning the language. Everything else can be considered a hobby, not studying. For instance, I like to spend my free time learning strange writing systems, or basic sentences in as many languages as possible.
Why do you want to be a polyglot?
It’s not really the title ‘polyglot’ that motivates me the most. In fact, being referred to as a polyglot would not satisfy me on its own. My dream is to be able to communicate fluently in a number of foreign languages. I know, the title of my blog is I wish to be a polyglot!, but this is just a direct reference to the topic my writings are based around. Interestingly, David Mansaray seems to share my views on the issue, as shown in the article Mansaray: “Being a polyglot is a lifestyle choice”.
Do you have a special talent?
No. If you ended up on this blog by accident, you may think that I’m a young-age genius who acquires foreign languages with incredible ease. In reality, I’m just a boy with an average mind who has a great interest in languages and cultures. This blog is intended to be my way of telling the world about language-related things that I do, or learn about. In case you’re looking for someone with a special talent who could amaze you more than I do, I recommend Tim Doner’s Youtube channel.
Do you make any use of languages in your travels?
Of course! Whenever I go abroad, I ensure that I have memorised a very basic vocabulary of the language so that I can ask for help in the country, and perhaps even impress them a little bit. If I spend at least a week in a foreign place (not very often), I might consider using the time effectively by learning as much of the language as I can in the given period of time. For example, my visit to Italy two years ago involved quite a lot of interaction with the locals, and – of course – a bit of self-education.