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Five Accomplished Polyglots Every Language Geek Should Know About


Powell Janulus can speak 42 different languages, and was a certified court translator for 28 of those. In his thirties, he became a court translator and got paid for each language he could translate. He was entered into the Guinness World Records in 1985 for fluency in 42 languages. He had to pass a two-hour conversational fluency test with a native speaker of each of the 42 different languages he spoke at that time. It is reported that Powell speaks the following 42 languages: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, German, Dutch, Frisian, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Kashubian, Lusatian, Wendish, Belarusian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Armenian, Sinhalese, Tibetan, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Croatian, Greek, Turkish, Kurdish, Finnish, Korean and Persian. In his forties he expanded his repertoire to include less common languages such as Tibetan, Romani (Gypsy), Inuit (Eskimo) and Swahili.  

Kató Lomb was a Hungarian interpreter, translator and one of the first simultaneous interpreters in the world. She was able to interpret fluently in nine or ten languages and she earned money with sixteen languages (Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Ukrainian). She learned these languages mostly by teaching herself. She is the author of the books: How I Learn Languages and Harmony of Babel


 
Harold Williams was a journalist and linguist who spoke more than 58 languages, including  English, Zulu, Latin, Ancient Greek, Hebrew, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Russian, Polish, Niue, Swahili, Dobuan, Hausa, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Old Irish, Tagalog, Hungarian, Czech, Coptic, Egyptian, Hittite, Albanian, Basque, Chinese and others.


Kenneth Locke Hale was a linguist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who spoke over 50 languages and studied a huge variety of previously unstudied and often endangered languages—especially indigenous languages of North America, Central America and Australia. Languages investigated by Hale include Navajo, O'odham, Warlpiri, and Ulwa, among many others.


Michael Ventris deciphered Linear B, showing it to be early Greek and was an impressive linguist, though an architect by profession. He knew a wide range of European languages (during wartime training in Canada, he commented on hearing Polish and Ukrainian being spoken in the streets of Canadian cities) and before his death in a car crash in 1956, he was able to talk to Linear B symposium participants in their own languages. 






Add your favorite polyglot in the comment section below. Please include full name, brief bio and link if possible.

101+ Verb Guides in 28 Exotic Languages



Click Here to Access the Verb Guides in Over 28 Languages

These new verb guides seem very promising. Some of them (like the Azerbaijani verb guide) are over 500 pages long! They are all written by different authors, so I assume the quality of each will vary. However, judging by the sample pages available on Amazon here, they look interesting, especially considering the lack of modern and affordable resources in some of these languages.

Languages available: Basque, Bengali, Dari, Macedonian, Pashto, Croatian, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Georgian, Estonian, Bosnian, Azerbaijani, Punjabi, Latvian, Burmese (Mayanmar), Kazakh, Hebrew, Indonesian, Catalan, Creole + more. There's even one for Esperanto, but I can't imagine why you'd need it because the verbs are so easy and regular.

Netflix Streaming Movies in 45 Lesser-Studied Languages from Albanian to Georgian and from Igbo to Zulu


[Last Update: January 18, 2017] (* = added since last update)

Netflix offers movies in a wide variety of foreign languages. The problem is that they can be difficult to find without checking the audio track content of each movie individually. I decided to make this list after finding some lesser-studied languages and I hope this will also be useful to others.

This list will be periodically updated to keep it as current as possible. Please comment if you find anything I'm missing.

See Also:
Click Here for Movies Featuring Languages / Linguists

Albanian
The Forgiveness of Blood

Amharic
Difret

Arabic
A Borrowed Identity
Eyes of a Thief
Horses of God
Return to Homs
Salt of the Sea
* Sandstorm
The Square
Theeb
Traitors
Under the Bombs
When I Saw You

Bengali
Sesh Sanghat

Catalan
Tasting Menu

Croatian
The Trap
* You Carry Me

Czech
The Country Teacher

Dari
An Afghan Love Story
The Black Tulip
Tell Spring Not to Come This Year

Danish
A War
After the Wedding
Antboy: Revenge of the Fury
* Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes
* Department Q: The Absent One
Expedition to the End of the World
The Hunt
What we Became

Dutch
App
* Black Book
Black Out
* Bon Bini Holland
Everybody's Famous
Kill Zombie!
North Sea Texas
The Deflowering of Eva van End
Time of My Life
* Tricked
Wolf

Finnish
Hush

Flemish
Belgica
Ben X

Georgian
In Bloom
* The President

Greek
Xenia 

Gujarati
* Famous in Ahmedabad

Hebrew
Atomic Falafel
* Baba June
Bethlehem
Big Bad Wolves
Cupcakes
Hitabdut
Hot House
Kadosh
* Orientated
Policeman
Room 514
The Attack
The Bubble
The Flat
The Matchmaker
Zero Motivation

Hindi
Click Here for Movies in Hindi 

Hungarian
White God

Icelandic
* Rams

Igbo
Onye Ozi

Indonesian
Look of Silence
What They Don't Talk About...
The Act of Killing

Kannada
* U-Turn

Kashmiri
Valley of Saints

Kinyarwanda
Munyurangabo

Lithuanian
The Gambler

Maori
The Dead Lands

Marathi
* 1000 Rupee Note
Fandry
* Sairat 

Nepali
Manakamana
About Elly
Baran
Jafar Panchi's Taxi
Manuscripts Don't Burn
* Those who Feel the Fire Burning

Polish
* III - The Ritual 
11 Minutes
Aftermath
Ida
In the Name of Korczak
Jack Strong
Joanna
Starting Point

Punjabi
Mitti Wajaan Maardi
* Saaday CM Saab
Zinda Bhaag

Quechua
* Ixcanul

Romanian
Beyond the Hills
Child's Pose
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu
Tuesday, After Christmas
When Evening Falls on Bucharest

Serbian
When Day Breaks

Somali
Last Hijack

Swedish
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting Existence
Gentlemen and Gangsters (TV show)
Pure
Simon and the Oaks
Together
We are the Best

Tagalog
Norte, The End of History
On the Job
The Road

Tamil
* Interrogation
Mugamoodi
Theeya Velai Seyyanum Kumaru

Thai
At the Gate of the Ghost
Mercury Man
Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Power Kids
The Gangster
The Protector 2
This Girl is Badass
Vengeance of an Assassin

Tibetan
A Gesar Bard's Tale

Turkish
Love Me
Sarcasmik
Watchtower
Winter Sleep

Ukrainian
Maidan
Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

Urdu
Inshallah Football
Josh (Against the Grain)
Na Maloom Afraad
These Birds Walk

Zulu
Avenged
Lucky














Don't Be a Grammar Hater: Taking the Boredom Out of Language Grammars and Textbooks



There are many ways to learn a foreign language. You can learn in a classroom, through textbooks, by reading, listening to music, watching television and movies, talking with native speakers, immersing yourself in a community where the language is spoken, etc. If you are learning a language for fun, then there is no reason that your learning process shouldn't focus primarily on those activities that you enjoy. The more you enjoy something, the more likely it is that you will continue to do it and that you will remain passionate about learning that language for a longer period of time.

I am fortunate because I enjoy all of these different types of activities. I studied seven languages in a classroom setting. I have learned vocabulary through reading, I have spent time with native speakers living here in the United States and during trips to Europe, I have watched countless hours of dubbed and original TV shows in multiple languages as well as listened to music and read hundreds of textbooks.

Learning languages by reading textbooks and studying grammar is perhaps one of the least popular activities, especially among self learners. However, I happen to be one of the few people who enjoy reading textbooks. I'm not just talking about the Teach Yourself/Colloquial Series fare, but rather the kind of textbooks written for beginning, intermediate and advanced university language courses. In fact, I can remember several times when I would pretend to be sick just so that I did not have to go to high school and I could stay home all day and read a German or Russian textbook I had borrowed from school.

When I study a new language, I like to browse through an introductory grammar or textbook first in order to get a basic overview of what I am up against so that when I start the formal learning process and I come across something strange while reading, I will not become overly confused - "Hey, that must be the perfective/imperfective aspect I read about."

Other people (probably most people) find grammar boring and prefer to skip over those sections of textbooks or they wait to read them later after they have had more exposure to the language. And that's perfectly OK. There are plenty of other ways to "learn" grammar. However, if it is something that you enjoy, then there is no reason to avoid it (just stick with the simple grammar in the textbooks at first because the details and exceptions to grammatical rules in large reference grammars may overwhelm you at the beginning).

Studying grammar, however, is not a substitute for the immersion process. You may have learned a verb paradigm or how to decline a noun in the dative case, etc., but knowing the concept is no substitute for being able to recognize and produce the language. You need time to assimilate the knowledge you have learned in order to be able to use it in the real world. 

I like to have more than one textbook/grammar for each language I am studying because 1) if you find something difficult to understand, a fresh perspective or a different approach can suddenly make something clear and 2) reading about the same concepts and seeing the same vocabulary over and over again in different books eliminates the need for rote learning. I remember struggling with the concept of the subjunctive tense when I started learning Spanish. It wasn't until I saw the explanation shown in the picture that I suddenly understood. Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective.

There are no hidden secrets to language learning. Try out all the methods. Take inspiration from others, but don't limit yourself to just what works for them. Find the combination that works for you. Learning another language takes time, dedication and focus, but if you can spend that time doing something you love, then hours will seem like minutes because passion makes all the difference!
Textbooks do not have to be boring. For example:
Deutsch Macht Spaß! is a neat little German review grammar that uses Hagar® and Peanuts® Cartoons in German.







 
If you like French movies, there are quite a few textbooks that teach French through movies, such as Sequences: Intermediate French through Film 








There is even a French textbook that centers around a mystery story in which the protagonist travels all over the French-speaking world (including New Orleans): 
 





And if you are really a glutton for punishment, you can try this 1,600-page bible of French grammar:
Le Bon Usage
 


How to Translate the Word Hoarder in Other Languages





Sometimes you hear a word in your native language and then you suddenly realize that you don't know or have never heard that word or expression used in your foreign language. Often you are not even aware of this lexical gap in your vocabulary. A useful exercise is to go on a vocabulary exploration or hunt - as described by Anthony Lauder in his four-part series The Spiral Method of Language Learning

For example, while watching a popular American television show, I realized that I didn't know how the word "hoarder" or "hoarding" was translated in some of my languages. Pathological or compulsive hoarding, also known as Diogenes syndrome, is a specific type of behavior characterized by acquiring and failing to throw out a large number of items that would appear to have little or no value to others (e.g. papers, notes, flyers, newspapers, clothes) and severe cluttering of the person's home so that it is no longer able to function as a viable living space. But how is this idea expressed in other languages? I decided to do some research.

One of the terms used for hoarder in Spanish is "acaparador(a)" and hoarding is "acaparamiento" as in the "acaparamiento de bienes" (hoarding of possessions). While native Spanish speakers concur that this is the term used to refer to hoarding, the term is also used to describe monopolizing the sale of a good or product or just simply stockpiling. As a result, many speakers feel that you need to make the term more specific and say “acaparamiento obsesivo/compulsivo” (obsessive/compulsive hoarding). Italian also uses the similar “accaparratore (m)” and “accaparratrice (f)” to refer to a hoarder.

The French seem to use the word "amasseur" or, similar to Spanish, the word "accaparer", with a hoarder being referred to as "celui qui amasse" or "one who hoards". One of the translations suggested for Portuguese was "catador", but this refers more to a scavenger and I'm not sure if it adequately conveys the concept of "hoarding".

By far my favorite is the German term “Messies” and the corresponding “Messie-Syndrom”.
Germans also use the word “hamstern” and “anhäufen” as well as the term “Vermüllungssyndrom”. Here is a YouTube video from a German TV show featuring someone with Messie-Syndrom: