Polyglot Pathways

Recently I’ve seen questions on various Facebook groups about whether someone can be called a polyglot if they only speak certain languages, e.g. only Romance languages, or only languages from one region, e.g. Europe, or if they only can read and write the languages but cannot speak them.

As far as I’m concerned, a polyglot could be anyone who speaks, understands, reads, writes and/or signs serveral languages. It doesn’t matter how many languages or which languages they are.

There are many different paths to polyglothood, or polyglot pathways, as I like to call them. Each polyglot and potential polyglot has their own reasons for learning languages, and for choosing particular languages.

  • You could specialise in one language and its variant forms – dialects and accents; regional, social and historical versions; creoles based on it (if any); and the other languages that have contributed to it.
  • You could specialise in one language family, or one part of a language family.
  • You might prefer to learn languages from various language families and regions.
  • You might concentrate on languages with the most speakers, or ones spoken in the most countries.
  • Alternatively you might prefer smaller languages, or endangered, revived or ancient languages.

I’m currently concentrating on Germanic, Slavic and Romance languages, and to a lesser extent on Celtic languages.

What polyglot pathways are you exploring?

One thought on “Polyglot Pathways

  1. Four categories on-going:
    Reading a language I can manage at newspaper/short story level: right now, German
    Preparation for reading: a language I’ve ton rusty on: Urdu
    Learning: Arabic
    Playing: Hawaiian.

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