The generic term for a multilingual person is polyglot.

“Alexander Arguelles presents a series of videos to provide introductory overviews of the languages of the world. Working diachronically through various language families in turn, he demonstrates how to identify each language, translates a text sample to show how it works, and discusses its genetic affiliation and cultural context. For further information about the series, please refer to

I came across this video by Alexander Arguelles, explaining Norwegian Bokmål and Norwegian Nynorsk – the two written languages in Norway. Whenever I try to explain to non-Scandinavian people who Norway have two written languages (“Why don’t you just decide on one?”), and how Scandinavian people understand each other (“So are the differences about as big as German and French?”) – I am not sure just how to explain it – so from now on I think I will refer them to this video.

I keep on being fascinated by polyglots. I wish I knew more languages, but I am not the fastest language learner. I do hope I can continue learning languages as a hobby throughout my life. If I could have one language “for free” – a language I just knew without having to work for it, I would choose French. I probably should choose a language from a completely different language group, like Chinese, Finnish or Arabic, but I have this secret love for French, even though I do not speak a single word of it yet.

If you could have one language “for free” – which one would you choose?

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  1. Elisabeth says:

    I would have to go for Chinese, because I suck at learning it any other way…

    • Sushi Bird says:

      I wish I had a little more motivation right now, it seems more fun to write blog-posts than studying Japanese right now. Maybe I would have to pick Japanese – if I could know it fluently and just have all the kanji magically inputted in my head, that would be a sweet deal.

  2. Helene says:

    I think I would go for Japanese myself.
    By the way, I think you can compare Scandinavian to the latin languages (French, Spanish and Italian). They can too understand much of eachother languages, since the grammar and origin for words are the same.

    • Sushi Bird says:

      Japanese is a lot of fun to study, but I have a hard time remembering all the things I am suppose to remember (especially vocabulary and kanji).

      I am not a linguist at all, but I always thought that the Scandinavian languages (Norwegian, Danish and Swedish) was even closer and more alike than French, Spanish and Italian? I do not speak any of those languages though, so this is just hearsay and things I have read, and no personal experience what so ever.

      I would love to do a crash course in Latin some day, just for fun.

  3. vaarloek says:

    you know, french IS a different language group than norwegian 😉 i think i’d go for your choices. finnish is awesome! sami too. russian. i’d like to learn malaylam, and indian language spoken in Kerala. it sounds pretty. spanish. and swahili!

    • vaarloek says:

      ok, it was supposed to be “an indian language”.

    • Sushi Bird says:

      Ah, you are completely right! I guess I should have been clearer – I meant a language outside the Indo-European language group all together. I have to admit, I actually do not know how Malaylam even sounds, so now I am going to Wikipedia to find out.

  4. ziarah says:

    Love the video. I lived a year in France when I was 17-18 years old, and although I wouldn’t say that I got a language “for free”, it sure helped a lot. Being an exchange student can be a rather tough experience, though, but I’m very thankful that I went when I look back. My French is not perfect, but when I use it a lot it’s rather good. It gradually gets better throughout the summer, for example, when I work as a tourist guide as I slip into the language again and begin remembering small things that sort of hide when you don’t use a language that much.

    • Sushi Bird says:

      I have been in Japan for a year, and I am still not feeling any kind of naturalness when it comes to the language. I am not the fastest language learner though. I can do well on paper and on tests – but talking is maybe the hardest part for me. When you lived in France, did you speak French every day, all day?

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