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Being a polyglot and its social implications

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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby keatonatron » Sun 01.20.2008 1:01 am

If you don't know the word polyglot/can't look it up, it's probably okay if you don't participate in this discussion ;)
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby Kdar » Sun 01.20.2008 2:05 am

skrhgh3b wrote:I often study Japanese in cafes in America, and every so often a native Japanese will be there by chance, and although I hope they'll notice me studying Japanese and say something to me, I very rarely will bother a random Japanese person. I used to, of course, but I don't anymore. I couldn't quite say why, though. I guess because I've never actually made a friend that way. Maybe I should be more outgoing?
On the other hand, I was using my laptop in a starbucks in Japan, and a woman at the table next to me was studying English. I believe she was reading a novel and taking notes, so her English must have been fairly advanced, and I kept waiting for her to say something to me, but she never did. And yet, when you walk down a suburban street in Japan, 5 and 8 year old kids will run up to you in groups and say "Hello!"


I guess, she just not wanted to bother you. And maybe she was busy studying.
Maybe people there are more locked within, and don't try to bother other people too much.
I am, sometimes, the same way.

There someone who is working at my work, who is seem to be Japanese. Her name is for sure Japanese. But I never asked if she was Japanese or not.
She seem kind of locked too. Just go to work and go from work. We work in different departments, but I see her sometime. Sometimes she say "Hi", and thats all. She does not seem very conversational, like some other co-worker (mostly Americans). Some of those co-workers are just over-conversational.... aaaahhh..
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby tanuki » Sun 01.20.2008 8:59 am

I'm not really proficient in any language beside Spanish, so I hardly classify as "polyglot", but I do have a pretty strong interest in foreign languages, so I will just answer the questions.

Does being a polyglot define who you are? Is it a fact that you like to introduce about yourself rather early when meeting new people, or is it a pleasant surprise to pull out months down the road?


Definitely not something I like to say when meeting new people. I just mention it when the situation requires it. For example, if someone asks if I speak foreign languages, I will tell them.


In the past, have others been impressed by your ability to learn new languages, or has it caused you to appear like a "dork" because you spend a lot of your free time doing such things?


Most people are positively impressed. Actually, there's only one person (an acquaintance) I remember being obnoxious when he found out I study Japanese because he found it a waste of time and asked me if I was doing it for a girl or some crap like that.

Do you agree with the statement "learn a new language, gain a new soul"? Basically, are there spiritual or deeper meanings to being a polyglot than just the functional uses of your peripheral languages such as making a living with them because you have emigrated?


No, what makes me learn languages is merely linguistic interest. And it's nice to be able to communicate with people from all over the world, that's it.

Extra comment: I have known one "real" polyglot, who had a superb ability to learn foreign languages and spoke more or less 5 languages fluently. I couldn't help but being impressed by him and it would never cross my mind to think of him like a "dork". To me, language learning is not dorky, it's something that shows me that the person has interest in the world outside the borders of his country/zone.
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 01.20.2008 11:14 am

I'm not really proficient in any language beside Spanish


Yeah right. :P Your English (at least that you type here) is native-level.
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby tanuki » Sun 01.20.2008 6:16 pm

You should hear me speak then haha. :)

I've never been to an English-speaking country, so my pronunciation is poor and undefined (not American, nor English, nor Australian, nor...).
Last edited by tanuki on Sun 01.20.2008 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby Harisenbon » Sun 01.20.2008 9:26 pm

keatonatron wrote:
And just today when I got on the crowded train, the guy next to me whipped out his English textbook and started reading it in a position that made it very hard for me to not see what it was.


On my way home for work one day, an older Japanese guy was standing next to me and called his wife to come pick him up at the station. For some reason even though he started the conversation in Japanese he switched to broken "old guy" English as soon as he noticed me. Some other passengers noticed the switch and started teasing him by saying "oh really?" and "this is a pen!" :D

But yeah, I'm also definately guilty of thinking "hey! pay attention that I'm writing Japanese on my cellphone! I'm literate, I promise!"
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby TrashTreasurer » Sun 01.20.2008 11:07 pm

Where I live, a Honda plant is being built, which has caused a massive influx of Japanese to this area. Every time I see a Japanese person while I'm shopping or running other errands, it takes a lot of effort for me to avoid walking up and trying to say hello and start a conversation in Japanese just for the sake of practicing my conversational skills. Since I live in a rural area, seeing a Japanese person here is probably as rare as a white fellow in Japan. Because of this, I can for sure understand why so many in Japan are eager to run up and practice their English with an American, as I get that same urge.

The thing is, I wouldn't mind at all if a Japanese person walked up and tried out his English with me. I guess you get sick of it if this happens to you all the time living in Japan, though.
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby Hatori » Mon 01.21.2008 1:58 am

keatonatron wrote:
If you don't know the word polyglot/can't look it up, it's probably okay if you don't participate in this discussion ;)

I looked it up and I'm absolutely confused. This is what I got:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyglot_%28computing%29
我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。我是老师。
lol
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby chikara » Mon 01.21.2008 2:18 am

Hatori wrote:
I looked it up and I'm absolutely confused. This is what I got:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyglot_%28computing%29

The very first line of which is For other uses, see Polyglot (disambiguation).

Which gives you this;

Polyglot may refer to:

Multilingualism, a single speaker who uses two or more languages, or a community of speakers where two or more languages are used
Polyglot (person), speaking multiple languages
Hyperpolyglot, one who can speak six or more languages fluently
Polyglot (book), a book that contains the same text in more than one language
Polyglot (computing), a computer program that is valid in more than one programming language


I wonder which one(s) this thread is about ;)
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby guillermo » Tue 01.22.2008 3:09 pm

At work I have to use some languages. If you can communicate in different languages you always have advantages.
But people are far more impressed when they see my landing with my paraglider at some beach... :)
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 01.22.2008 3:43 pm

Use dictionary.com, not wikipedia, for definitions of words.
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby Kdar » Tue 01.22.2008 4:17 pm

Hatori wrote:
keatonatron wrote:
If you don't know the word polyglot/can't look it up, it's probably okay if you don't participate in this discussion ;)

I looked it up and I'm absolutely confused. This is what I got:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyglot_%28computing%29


Well it have computing next to it...
For sure will be something else :)
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby Wakannai » Tue 01.22.2008 4:23 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
Use dictionary.com, not wikipedia, for definitions of words.



I prefer merriam-webster.com

You can listen to word samples without paying for a "premium" account.
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby adamcube » Tue 01.22.2008 4:44 pm

I am not a polygot, yet certainly do aspire to become proficient in more languages than just my native English. Thanks to the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) courses that every adolescent in Britain must sit, I am slowly gaining enough fluency in French and German to 'get by' in these corrosponding countries at a very basic level. Nonetheless, approaching the terminal assessments for these courses has made me come to realise just how important I see foreign languages.

I suppose being at such a beginners level of linguistics provides me with different experiences of learning to those of the previous posters. For me, language is a compulsory element of everyday life. However, in spite of the monotony and fatigue this incessent study (try repeating "Je m'appelle Adam." for two years before you're actually taught what the verb "se appeller" means) brought about upon me during my early childhood, I have now come to fully embrace and enjoy my developing skills.

I'll admit; I adore grammar. It may not be a particularly inspiring conversation initiator - God only knows how many times I've used 'Simple Japanese Sentence Structure 101' as an ice breaker - but the idiosyncracities of lingual structure do hold a certain intrigue for me. Indeed I am often labelled, indirectly or otherwise, a "geek" for such interests. Alas is the joy of school life! However I perservere, since study of how language works has become integral to my life. It is not uncommon to find me gazing at a list of verb conjugations in the library during lunch, or even spacing out considering the implications of a structure upon the tone converyed whilst playing basketball. It can't be helped, I suppose; maybe I just am a language geek afterall!

I too relish opportunity for practise. Before I really began to take an interest in Japanese, I was lucky enough to travel on a bus twice daily with three proficient Japanese natives who were all more than willing to chat with me. That opportunity has passed, and not a study session of the language goes by when I don't regret not having used it to its fullest potential. Today I often run up to Asian students at my school, beginning a conversation only to find them to be any other nationality than Japanese. Instead I usually make do by reciting individual words or phrases over to non-speakers, simply to hear myself use the language. This is true for French and German too. Of course, this makes for rather heavy conversation! So, in this case I am in full accord with TrashTreasurer - if only a Japanese/French/German speaker would offer -me- some conversation!

Have wittled on about the despairity of finding a language partner I probably ought to mention how this love of linguistics has come to affect me as a person. I like to think that for this interest I am more open and embracing of others. I feel more outgoing and harbour desires to travel; quite the opposite to my older, younger self ;) . I also now am able to more fully appreciate language skills - I admit a certain degree of respect and admiration for anyone capable of using a language beyond their native tongue to an advanced level. I myself hope to one day be such a person!
Last edited by adamcube on Tue 01.22.2008 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Being a polyglot and its social implications

Postby two_heads_talking » Tue 01.22.2008 4:56 pm

chikara wrote:


Polyglot may refer to:

Multilingualism, a single speaker who uses two or more languages, or a community of speakers where two or more languages are used
Polyglot (person), speaking multiple languages
Hyperpolyglot, one who can speak six or more languages fluently
Polyglot (book), a book that contains the same text in more than one language
Polyglot (computing), a computer program that is valid in more than one programming language


I wonder which one(s) this thread is about ;)


and here I thought the whole conversation was about two-tongued people and figured I was the only one who could with any accuracy speak on the subject.. two-heads = two tongues.. :D :p :o
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