T Nation

What Languages Do You Speak?


I feel threatened by all of you multilingual people. I can barely speak American as a consequence of my Pittsburgh upbringing. People from the Northeast think I’m from Alabama, and people from the South think I’m drunk all the time. Great fucking combo.

If you don’t know what Pittsburghese sounds like, here’s a great example:

That’s basically how I sound when noises come out of my face hole.


@Steel_Nation that’s hilarious!!!


That’s how I find people when I’m in other cities.


You’re welcome. I don’t know enough about chess to understand the discussion there. Yes, that’s the game they’re talking about.

@ the book recommendation. Thank you, manuelp. It sounds like he covers people like the Bronte sisters. I’m in. That sounds like a fascinating book.


A fascinating article about hyperpolyglots.

@loppar, tagging you.


Where did you stay?


The popular city. Berlin. Well, it was popular to me. I wish I could remember the street names and stuff, but they were very big on me speaking German as much as possible, so my braid had to always be on translate mode lol


I’d argue that a lot of people would put Munich as ‘the popular city’ when they talk about Germany. I have only been three times to Berlin and never for long so I can’t speak to that city. Most people I know dislike the city though


Munich is more popular among Germans? Interesting! Why so?

Based on conversations and my observation, I’d say that among Americans, Berlin is the most popular German city, in the sense that Berlin’s the most well-known German city.


I was there for an entire school year, so I guess I just got aquainted there. We took trips to the Sachsen areas too


No I thought that Munich would be the most famous German city as perceived by people from outside of Germany. It is kind of a touristic hotspot which becomes very noticeable if you are in downtown Munich. Especially popular amongs Asians, I think.

Amongs Germans I don’t know if there are ‘most popular’ cities. Everybody that I know seems to like Hamburg a lot, me included. Also Munich is popular because it has undoubtly very beautiful places.


Amongst the conversations I’ve had in Australia about Germany, it’s pretty evenly split between Berlin and Munich, but I dare say Munich is only really mentioned because of Bayern Munich FC


I imagine that if you asked 1,000 random non-German people to name a German city you’d get >500 “Berlin” answers.


In the good old US of A, I feel like most people know Berlin just because it was the city mentioned in high school history class


I’ve heard of Berlin. It was in a Leonard Cohen song.


I heard there was a wall… I think Humpty Dumpty sat on it?


Yeah, sounds right. I heard the fall wasn’t an accident. The commies shot him still hoping to finally make that omelette.


If you want to make an omelette, you gotta crack a few eggs.


Well, I’m guilty of exhibiting of the behavior listed in the article, but not much. These actual hyperpolyglots are completely insane.

But I’d like to like emphasize one point mentioned in passing - speaking multiple languages was (is?) pretty normal in most parts of the world throughout millennia and it has nothing to do with intellectual abilities of an individual.

It’s only thanks to the freak occurrence that two global empires - British and American - used the same language that this modern monolingual tyranny was born. Usually, the language of an empire past its prime was used as a lingua franca.

In the Roman dominated Mediterranean traders spoke Greek among themselves while in Europe in Late Antiquity and Middle Ages different peoples communicated in Latin, and 18th century British and Prussian commanders fighting the French Empire planned their actions conversing in French.

For me, learning a language requires an emotional and historical involvement, it has to be a story, in other words. I simply cannot take a notebook and jot down conjugations of Maltese just for the hell of it.

Is all that accumulated knowledge superfluous? Of course. But for me it’s fun and the coolest moments come from chance encounters with complete strangers - dropping into Russian peppered with some Uzbek words with a pissed off Uzbek valet in mid-town Manhattan, informing an old Italian lady that cara signora, there’s no reason to speak in beastly English when we could be speaking the language of Dante and Petrarch/Petrarca.

There’s one thing that infuriates me though, and it’s Melania Trump’s English, which is really bad. Her English is bad not only from a FLOTUS or “recent US immigrant” perspective (I won’t get into that), but for a Slovenian born person. She sounds like she’s doing a really corny impression of a thick Slovenian accent for comedic purposes. Even in her native Sevnica you’d be hard pressed to find someone with such a thick accent.

How does one not pick up something after all those years living in the US?

Nevermind, I just remembered this guy from Austria, Arnold something-something,


@ The people taking a notebook and spending hours studying languages by rote. I can see where this is where the Autism spectrum comes in to it. People with that kind of focus on rote memorization, a fascination with language systemizing, if you will.

Yes. I think that’s most people.

A reason, necessity, or a love for the area and it’s people.

We’re going to try to learn Spanish this year. I’ll let you all know how I do.