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,