hyperpolyglot


a many languages speaker

TRANSLATION

hyperpolyglot = eine Person, die viele verschiedene Sprachen lernt und spricht

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“If I had just studied languages the formal way in school, I would never have become a HYPERPOLYGLOT. Learning languages is not just about memorising vocabulary and grammar. I supplement my classes and self-study books with lots of songs, movies, TV and radio.”

Martin Williams - Interviews Richard Simcott for The Guardian (5th September 2013)

Richard Simcott, 36, has studied more than 30 languages and is one of Britain’s leading hyperpolyglots. He is also the Goethe Institute’s ambassador for multilingualism and co-founder of the Polyglot Conference.

Did you
know?

hyperpolyglot
noun

- a person who learns and speaks many different languages

- one who masters or becomes fluent in many different languages

Macmillan Dictionary / Wiktionary


WORD ORIGIN

“Polyglot” stems from the 1650s, perhaps via Medieval Latin polyglottus, from Greek polyglōttos “speaking many languages,” literally “many-tongued”, from polys “many” + glōtta, literally “tongue”.

The term “hyperpolyglot” was coined in 1999 by Richard Hudson, London University College Professor Emeritus of Linguistics.


LINGUAL-LEVELS AS % OF GLOBAL POPULATION

- Monolinguals, one language = 40%

- Bilinguals, two languages = 43%

- Trilinguals, three languages = 13%

- Multilinguals, four languages = 3%

- Polyglots, 5 to 11 languages = < 1%

- Hyperpolyglots, 12 or more languages

Sources: Bilingualism in 2022: US, UK & Global Statistics, ResearchGate, Language Testing International (LTI)

NOTABLE HYPERPOLYGLOTS

- Alexander Argüelles, an American linguist, 12 languages

- Jeong Su-il, a historian from South Korea, 12 languages

- Lokesh Chandra, an Indian Buddhism scholar, 16 languages

- Swami Rambhadracharya, a Sanskrit scholar and Hindu religious leader, 22 languages

- Ioannis Ikonomou, a Greek translator for the European Commission, 32 languages

Fluency in a language comes in different levels. You are fluent when you can confidently hold a complex conversation with only a few mistakes and hesitations. On the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) scale, confident fluency begins at B2:

A Levels: A1 = Beginner, A2 = Elementary

B Levels: B1 = Intermediate, B2 = Upper intermediate

C Levels: C1 = Advanced, C2 = Proficiency


THE MANY LANGUAGES OF THE WORLD

There are currently about 7139 spoken languages in the world, of which around 25% are spoken by less than 1000 speakers. Around 2000 languages are in danger of extinction.

- Papua New Guinea is considered the most diverse linguistic country in the world with nearly 850 languages spoken, more than twice the number of languages spoken across Europe.

- Indonesia has 709 languages with Indonesian as the official language. Most other languages are Austronesian, a language family widely spoken throughout Southeast Asia, Madagascar, the islands of the Pacific Ocean and Taiwan.

- Nigeria has 527 languages. English, spoken by 60 million people, is augmented by many other languages from the Niger-Congo and Afro-Asiatic language families.

- India has 454 languages with English and Hindi being the official ones. Hindi, after English, Standard Chinese, and Spanish, stands as the fourth most widely spoken language in the world.

- The USA has 347 spoken languages. Although English dominates, Native Americans and European immigrants contribute greatly to linguistic diversity.

- China has more than 300 spoken languages with Standard Chinese (Mandarin) being the official language spoken by over 70% of the population.

Sources: Ethnologue, Linguistic Society of America, Statistics&Data


SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“According to a BBC estimation, there are less than 1000 HYPERPOLYGLOTS alive in the world.”


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