• Shae Bryant

What is a Polyglot?

"Polyglot" is a term that most people don't know the meaning of. The dictionary defines it as:

1: speaking or writing several languages : MULTILINGUAL

b: composed of numerous linguistic groups

a polyglot population

2: containing matter in several languages

a polyglot sign

3: composed of elements from different languages

4: widely diverse (as in ethnic or cultural origins)

a polyglot cuisine

For me, we'll focus on the first definition. I speak, read and write both Spanish and English. I am able to read and write some German and some Japanese - I should mention I can only read and write Hiragana. I'm not so great with Katakana and I don't know any Kanji. I am barely conversational in German and Japanese both. Which means I am not a polyglot, I am just a wannabe polyglot.

I grew up in South Florida, and I lived in an area where I was the minority. Many of my friends had family members at home who didn't speak English. Because I was so young, I was able to pick up phrases pretty quickly and communicate with their families. Over time, I learned from complete immersion. I spent a lot of time with my friends and their families, and ended up not only speaking Spanish but picking up their dialect and slang.

Once I realized that I started to pick up a second language, I focused on really learning it. I got help from my friends and their families. When I moved out, both of my roommates decided to help me by speaking nothing but Spanish at home. It didn't take me long at all to learn!

After that, I developed an interest in languages. As time moved on and I was introduced to The Professor himself, I developed even more of an interest in languages and linguistics. That's when I decided to learn more than two languages.

What would I learn? I started with German since my paternal Grandfather did speak some German. Serbian was my first choice, since my maternal Grandfather spoke Serbian and so did his Mother and siblings. It's rather difficult to find someone who teaches Serbian, so I began with German. I really, really suck at German.

Why would I learn? Because it's fun! And it's always a learning experience.

Being or becoming a polyglot is a hobby for me. For some folks, it's a profession. For others, it's a necessity because of where they live or their family. Every time you set out to learn a new language, you encounter native speakers. They're always happy to teach you words or phrases and tell you a little about their culture. Oh, and you always get to learn about the food or try it. I think sharing food and language is probably the best way to learn about and experience another culture. That's why I am (still) a wannabe polyglot.

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