Indeed, a surprising proportion of them are “hyperglots”, like Keeley and Krasa, who can speak at least 10 languages. One of the most proficient linguists I meet here, Richard Simcott, leads a team of polyglots at a company called eModeration – and he uses about 30 languages himself.
Toshihiko Izutsu (1914–1993), Japanese scholar. He knew more than thirty languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Persian, Sanskrit, Pali, Hindustani, Russian, Greek, and Chinese. Aziz Ahmad (1914–1978), Pakistani novelist. He spoke Urdu, Persian, English, German, French, Italian, Arabic, and Turkish.
With a passion for linguistics, Mezzofanti could speak in at least 40 different languages – although it is said that the total is more around the 70-100 mark.
An average person can speak two to four languages in a lifetime. However, human brains work differently, and an average person's brain can handle a maximum of four languages.
From Afrikaans to Zulu, Italian to Japanese, there are currently 7,117 known languages spoken by people around the world, according to Ethnologue, widely considered to be the most extensive catalogue of the languages of the world.
If the polyglot is an individual who has a special flair for picking up languages without having to formally learn them, then this suggests a more developed language centre in the brain, which doesn't correlate with IQ that is measured through non-verbal tests of logic and reasoning.
Well, more than 7,100 languages are spoken in the world today. Each and every one of them make the world a diverse and beautiful place. Sadly, some of these languages are less widely spoken than others.
Sir John Bowring (spoke 100 languages and knew 200 in varying degrees) Sir John Bowring was Hong Kong's fourth governor. He was a writer, traveler and political economist. He was best known for his linguistic abilities.
The Story of Richard Simcott, a Hyperpolyglot
Richard Simcott wasn't born speaking 50 languages. In fact, he never set out to be a polyglot, let alone a hyperpolyglot. It just happened. Like everyone else, he had to overcome challenges to learn new languages.
A new study found that of the world's 7,000 recognised languages, around half are currently endangered. Nearly a fifth of the world's languages could disappear by the end of the century, a new study warns.
Papua New Guinea has about eight million people, but more than 800 languages. The oldest ones, in the Papuan group, date back tens of thousands of years. So why are there so many languages in this mountainous island country This video has been optimised for mobile viewing on the BBC News app.
If you speak two languages you're bilingual, if you speak three you're trilingual. If you speak more, you may be considered a polyglot. Polyglots are certainly rare and interesting people: only about 3% of the world's total population can speak four or more languages.
Polyglots spend way more time listening and speaking
Most classes in schools or language courses focus on reading, learning vocabulary, and grammar which keeps students in their comfort zone. But nothing in your language learning will help you progress faster than speaking.
Powell Alexander Janulus
Powell Alexander Janulus (born 1939) is a Canadian polyglot who lives in White Rock, British Columbia, and entered the Guinness World Records in 1985 for fluency in 42 languages.
Today, the voices of more than 7,000 languages resound across our planet every moment, but about 2,900 or 41% are endangered. At current rates, about 90% of all languages will become extinct in the next 100 years.
It's unlikely that we'll see a world that speaks one language any time soon. Protecting each individual countries' cultures is a huge barrier, but an important one to ensure our world is as beautifully diverse as it's always been.
7000 Languages is a non-profit that helps Indigenous communities around the world teach, learn and sustain their languages through technology. We create free online language-learning courses in partnership with Indigenous, minority, and refugee communities so they can keep their languages alive.
In the early nineteen fifties, researchers found that people scored lower on intelligence tests if they spoke more than one language. Research in the sixties found the opposite. Bilingual people scored higher than monolinguals, people who speak only one language.
A person who can speak four or more languages is multilingual. Only three percent of people around the world can speak over four languages. Less than one percent of people worldwide are proficient in many languages. If someone is fluent in more than five languages, the person is called a polyglot.
For them, the regions of the brain that are associated with language appear quite large on activation maps. “But for the polyglots,” Fedorenko said, “it looked like it was way on the end of a continuum where these regions were small.” In other words, the polyglots were less — not more — engaged.
English is still the number one most spoken language around the world with about 370 million native speakers and almost 1 billion second-language speakers. It is still the most international language and it is the language of the Internet, business, and science. To be blunt, English is far from dying.
According to the Engco Forecasting Model explained above, the 5 most spoken languages in 2050 will be Mandarin, Spanish, English, Hindi and Arabic. The key drivers behind the continued rise in popularity of these languages include population growth, economic predictions and national language policy.
The American studies, philosophy and music expert at Columbia University, predicts that 90 per cent of languages will die out to leave around 600.
List of dictionaries by number of words
|Approx. no. of headwords
|Nihon Kokugo Daijiten
|Lietuvių kalbos žodynas (Academic Dictionary of Lithuanian)
|Webster's Third New International Dictionary and Addenda Section
Polyglots are no more unique and genetically gifted to learn languages than anyone else. The only difference is that they have committed to take the actions necessary to learn a language, and faced their fears of speaking and making mistakes.