In my correspondences with Professor Arguelles, I was always amazed by he skills and devotedness to languages and knowledge. As someone who is deeply interested in the more academic/literary aspects of language learning as compared to only social side (the preference of most), he’s been a big influence in my language learning.
Of course, he does say in the interview: “Now, I can read about three dozen languages and speak most of them fluently, and I’ve studied many more.” Not really a math wizz, that interviewer. It makes for a better headline, I guess.
JayB, I believe that he learned quite a few of his languages before getting married (And speaks French, Korean and perhaps Persian with his family immediate family).
Yes, it also says in the piece I linked to that he speaks French with his kids when he is alone with them, and that he sometimes speaks Korean with his wife (who is, believe, a native speaker of that language.) So I guess his family does have its linguistic advantages too!
Prof Arguelles is sort of the polar opposite of Moses McCormick/Benny Lewis/Ziad Fazah etc. He has studied over 60 languages to a very high level, but now has “settled” to a subset of those. Possibly the world’s most impressive living polyglot.
I was always under the impression that he had a good reading knowledge in all of his languages, with varying levels of fluent output. However if, as it says above, he speaks most of those three dozen fluently, well… now I’m really impressed ; )
I have just read the article and am still in total awe over the achievement of Prof. Arguelles. Apparently, he is also a very humble person. At least that’s the impression I got from watching his videos. He is a true inspiration and a fascinating testament to what you can achieve if you are determined enough. I’m also happy that he clearly states that what he has been doing for years involves an enormous amount of work and dedication.
I have personally spoken to Professor Arguelles in German and French and can confirm his fluency in those languages. Richard Simcott has spoken to him in nine, and confirmed his abilities in those also. The man is no phoney.
I didn’t particularly like that article. It obviously wasn’t written by him, and so his own claims are trumped up and exaggerated to make the article more incredible. For instance, take the line about how “If I were kidnapped and dropped in some unknown location, there are only very remote areas where I would sturggle to make myself understood.” Now, he has said that, but he explicitly said it about Europe. And yet there is no mention of that in the article, so the unsuspecting reader will assume right away he is talking about Anywhere On Earth.
Nevertheless it’s great to see him getting some kind of exposure by a relatively prestigious newspaper like the Guardian. I just wish journalists wouldn’t exaggerate claims to such an extent. What he has achieved is impressive enough!
I have no doubt that Alex is an accomplished speaker of many languages and able to read many more. I do not think that this is necessarily some amazing talent but the result of his interest, committment, the time devoted to the task of learning and enjoying languages, and of course his experience as a learner.
I think many ordinary people can learn to speak several languages, if not 50 languages , if they apply themselves. Alex is an extreme example, perhaps, but still a model for others to follow.
I think Alex can stimulate us to greater efforts, and show us some of his tips on learning, however, I still think we all have to find those ways of learning that work best for us, and which we most enjoy doing.
Elric, I can certainly confirm that it’s true for the Germanic family. I’m almost fluent in my second Germanic language (Dutch with English being my native language) and have an low intermediate level in a third (Yiddish). I can understand around 50% of everything of Standard High German and its dialects, Low German dialects and Frisian. My Afrikaans is more like 70% but that’s understandable. Any of these languages would be learned rather quickly. In the northern branch I’ve got about 15% understanding when reading Swedish/Norwegian/Danish and about 5% of Icelandic and Faroese. This is pretty good because before it was around 0%. It’s now comparable to my understanding of reading Dutch before I studied it.
Since I’m in love with the Germanic language family and would love to conquer them, this is all good news.