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February 21, 2012

Just some quick links to a story of interest today: the BBC reports today that a 20 year old has won a competition to find the most polyglot student in the UK:

Twenty-year-old Alex Rawlings has won a national competition to find the UK’s most multi-lingual student.

The Oxford University undergraduate can currently speak 11 languages – English, Greek, German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Afrikaans, French, Hebrew, Catalan and Italian.

Entrants in the competition run by the publishers Collins had to be aged between 16 and 22 and conversant in multiple languages.

They also have a longer article on other “hyperpolyglot” people, the most interesting part of which, in my personal opinion, is the suggestion that 11 languages is a significant watershed, with those who speak more languages than this being particularly rare. This is apparently the opinion of the author of Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners by Michael Erard, which sounds like it might be an interesting book.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get the videos attached to the two articles to display, so can’t comment on those. I also haven’t found the announcement from Collins itself.


From → Of Interest

  1. Very interesting. I’m overjoyed to hear that learning multiple languages is getting so much press.

    However, how do they define a “language”? This is an eternal question, of course. I asked because I noticed that he speaks Spanish, French, Catalan, and Italian, as well as German, Dutch, and Afrikaans. I think that those seven would be way easier than only four if they were Igbo, Khmer, and two forms of Arabic–just to pull a few from the air.

    This being said, I congratulate Master Rawlings for all his hard work!

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