Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Struggle of a polyglot

I am very fluent in four languages and can do decent in two other languages and blabber my way out in one other language. So I will just go ahead and call myself a polyglot. Growing up in a cosmo-city as Bangalore introduces you to different culture and languages. Also, its easy and common in our country to know more than a couple of languages with so many different lingua franca.

Someone has told "know one language, you are born once but know more languages and you are born many times". It has been easy for me to pick/follow languages - maybe due to my intuitive nature and that keen interest to learn something new.

So whats the struggle with knowing more than a couple of languages. The struggle is a bit more if you are a woman. You know, its difficult to keep a straight face and behave as if you understood nothing when a group of guys pass lewd or funny comments in their native tongue. Or when you are being scolded for some mischief you committed; and want to get away. You understand whats being hurled at you and yet put up that "I dont understand" face.

Anyway, I picked up bits of Spanish during my Costa Rican vacation. Some words in Spanish are similar to English. For e.g - comprenda, agua,  ambiente, perfecta, temperatura, cafe etc. This similarity is an advantage and you can follow what is being told. Thats how we could dabble with other Indian languages that follow these sort of similar pattern right? If you have a keen mind, its easy.

Well, you sure cant master the slang and the rhythm which only a native person could. This very reason makes it tough sometimes -  for e.g. malayalam. I can speak the language but can never ever get that tone unique to the language.

I have been indulging in an amusing yet exhausting practice since the time I have known William - our Costa Rican guide. He is a gregarious guy; with special fondness to women ;-) Well, on a serious note; he is a nice fellow. Whenever we bump into each other online, we start chatting. But here is the catch. He can speak English but cant write English. So our conversation would be in; what else but Espanol.

It so happens that I can follow what he says but when I have to respond; I need a translator. At times, with his unique spelling for few words; it becomes dificil de comprender. With online translators now; its not as bad as it seems. Translators at your disposal - you dont really need to know a language. But at times; when it gets out of hand for me to respond; I just insert a smiley with a Si

It sure works. I was asked to learn Espanaol as his writing in English is bad. But that was not the reason for me to inquire about Espanol classes at a Spanish coaching class; this was an opportunity to learn a new language - a foreign language. I could not enroll for the weekend classes and now they dont have a weekend batch yet.

I was talking to William yesterday and had to go through that tedious procedure. That makes me inclined towards learning Spanish; why not? Its worlds fastest growing and it seems easy to pick up. Thinking about languages, I quit midway learning Gujarati and Punjabi. I didnt quit, my teachers stopped midway.

Gujju and Punjabi teachers, where are you?


  1. Student lost interest! Teacher didn't stop! I can still teach you whenever you want me to..learning a new language is nice, I just lack petience to go through the whole process of learning it! I am fine with 4 languages I know..

  2. Spanish is a beautiful language. I listen to Spanish movies in TV and love its intonations. I asked K to study Spanish at Christ; he did it for two semesters but lost interest! :-(

  3. Spanish yes the fastest growing language ,but not as musical like French and worse than the Greek, which is the Dutch .
    Easier said as long as one is away from India where around every bend there is different language and or dialect.

    How wonderful it was when people drew images to convey and spoken languages where not invented or discovered?
    No lewd comments !

  4. I am bad at languages. For me learning C++ is easies than learning Spanish.

    But I heard people who know more languages are more intelligent...but I can prove it wrong...I do not know so many language and always claims 'perfection cannot be improved'

  5. how true!! the advantage of bangalorean :):)

    enakkum 6 bhashai theriyum, aana edhuvum perfecta theriyadhu... but I don't complaint.

  6. good I enjoyed reading...I know just 3 languages...

  7. Being in Bangalore really helps in learning new languages.

  8. I just read the post , the comments and happened to note the left top margin. Din't know that rabbits were language experts- maybe each time they show out of burrow they would pick up something new:)

  9. I can speak five languages (can write only three)and understand a bit of few more .One language that i really want to learn is French.Well language is not specific to any gender but i often hear that women are better at it.Good luck !Sure that you will learn Spanish very fast :):)

  10. Hey you didn't tell what are these 4 languages? I can see that one is Spanish for sure :)

    How is Spanish as to learn , i mean is it of the same difficulty level as French?

  11. How true.
    I can understand Tamil and Gujarati very well and can converse in both the languages to the extent that I can explain myself.
    Yes, I could help you with Punjabi. In any case, in Punjabi, there are more abuses and less of grammer

  12. I always envy the people who are multilingual..I can understand a little french,tamil and bengali, but no fluency:(

  13. Some people can learn languages faster than others.It is an inherent taste or skill,like music or painting.
    Most European languages are of Latin origin,and share many words.

    I have a kind of mental block to some languages,and I cant learn them,because I dislike them.

    Doesnt matter how stylishly you do it,so long as the purpose remains communication

  14. i can only do hindi-emglish-punjabi

    all the best in learning it .. and who was teaching you punjabi :)

    its beautiful language.. if u leave the abuses out..


  15. I also love to learn many languages. I also know about 5 lang. + 2 which I can mange well. One foreign ie French. But I am out of touch. Once I get back to Chennai shall continue my lessons.

  16. Beauty of being an Indian is that we tend to learn plenty of languages and this according to some study develops ur brain. Same pinch even I know 4 languages properly and 2-3 little little.

    Neha mane pan Gujarati seekha :)

  17. 7 languages!!! and you never mix up :D how cool is that ...
    I wish i could learn Tamil... though I hv mastered myself in identifying scoldings and animal names :P
    //teachers stopped midway// ROFL :D what did you do ? :D

  18. Nice one. I want to write a joke here.

    An American who can speak Italian language went to Rome. Went to a restaurant for dinner. The waiter was a Chinese guy. He spoke perfect Italian language. The Italian speaking American customer was impressed. He gave him extra tip money. On the way out, he told the restaurant manager that he is impressed with the Chinese waiter who can speak perfect Italian language.

    The American customer asked him how long this Chinese waiter is living in Italy. The manager said he came from China only one month ago. The American customer was more impressed. He said: How come within one month he could speak perfect Italian. The manager said: Please don’t tell the Chinese waiter. He thinks he speaks English.

    May be William thought you spoke Spanish. And, you thought he spoke Tamil. Both of you understood each other. That is what counts.

  19. Neha,

    Nah! teacher got busy! Yes, we start our classes right away! :-)


    Oh! how I wish I could have learnt Spanish or french while in college! Spanish is beautiful yes..


    Thats exactly what happened in Costa Rica the first day. The cabbie didnt know a word in English. I was casual in handling my vanity bag and he wanted me to be careful as there were thieves around in the city. He struggled so hard with all his expressions to explain me - the snatch, the stab, the pain..all gestures!

    It was unadulterated.


    Hahaha how boring you are :-P


    Yup! Its helpful isnt it?


    Thanks. 3 is also very good.


    Yes Harish, it sure helps.

    Holy Lama,

    :-P hahahaha yeah!


    Awesome! I know teeny weeny bit of French :) learnt out of interest - self learnt but forgot soon

    hope I pick up Spanish fast.


    Spanish, I am trying to learn. Have to start classes once I can fit into the schedule.
    Spanish seems easier than French for me.

    Chowla sir,

    Wonderful, Tamil and Gujarati totally unrelated.
    I heard that from so many people - Punjabi is more of abuses :)

    Thank you sir.


    Thanks Renu, thats a nice thing you know, you can understand at least a bit


    Yup! I agree with you on the mental block thing. Unless you are interested, you can how much ever you try.


    Thanks. Yeah a guy was teaching me Punjabi and just quit!! uummpphh!!


    Wow wow! vous parle francais? I know teeny weeny bit..I am forgetting that as well. Self learnt through internet and TV



    Yes girl. Its good to know more languages isnt it? the more, the merrier :)


    :-P yeah havent until now.

    Tamil, it should be easy that you are in chennai :)

    I didnt do anything, teacher got busy!


    :-) Fortunately it wasnt that way. William doesnt even know what languages Indians speak. He only knows that I can speak English. Yeah we do communicate and understand each other. Thats what matters.

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  21. hii...loved your post!! the mushy (mushroom)post is fantastic with all those amazing pics. Btw i can teach you Punjabi ;) if you want.

  22. Shadow...

    Thank you, glad you liked it and welcome here :-)

    Haa thanks again, I would love to learn Punjabi.


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