Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chinese youth Yu Ming Studies the wrong language before visiting Ireland -- or the right one?

Here's a touching nine-minute video about a bored Chinese youth, Yu Ming, who spins a globe and randomly points to a country to escape to. And when the spinning slows, his finger chances to land on Ireland. He wrongly assumes that the Irish language is the dominant language of Ireland and, in China, he studies it to fluency or near-fluency. But when he arrives in the Ould Sod, he gradually realizes that English is everywhere -- and Irish nowhere. In fact, only a small percentage of the Irish still use it in small pockets of the country. Fortunately, Yu Ming chances to run into a native speaker in Dublin. This is the story of a beleagured Celtic language -- under siege in its own country by that eight hundred pound gorilla of languages, English. Here's a link to the video embedded in linguist Donovan Nagel's language-learning blog, The Mezzofanti Guild:

Monday, September 2, 2013

What does it take to become a speaker of 10 or more languages? Time magazine's Katy Steinmetz discusses the phenomenon of "hyperpolyglottery" with the author of Babel No More

The hyperpolyglots -- speakers of many, many languages, often 10 or more -- are rapidly populating YouTube with their astonishing videos, delivering short monologues in one tongue after another. The movement has even been begun scheduling its own international conferences. Here, Time magazine's Katy Steinmetz discusses the growing phenomenon with the author of Babel No More.