Polyglot Meme

I’ve been tagged. Jim Getz has called me out. He wants to know what languages I know no matter how poorly I may know them.
As drafted by James McGrath, who proposed this exercise, here’s the criteria.

I’ve decided to start a meme, asking those tagged to list every language that they have made some sort of concerted effort to learn, even if they didn’t get beyond the first lesson or so, or even if they are still learning it. No need to specify the degree of fluency in the blog post – if readers are curious how much Swahili you know, they can ask.

Keeping that low bar in mind, here’s my list.

  • Hebrew (Biblical and modern)
  • Ugaritic
  • Akkadian (from Old Babylonian on, from Old Assyrian on, Standard Babylonian, peripheral)
  • Aramaic (Old, Imperial, Targumic and Syriac)
  • Phoenician (including Punic)
  • Moabite (yes, two inscriptions do make a language. When it comes to Moabite and several others on such lists, having an army and a navy is not required. Just an army will do and sometimes not even that. Heck, I’ve even looked at Ammonite stuff.)
  • Greek (Hellenistic and Classical)
  • Egyptian
  • Hurrian
  • Sumerian
  • Arabic
  • Latin
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Catalan (our daughter-in-law’s native tongue)
  • Italian
  • Japanese

The list of languages I am willing to take even an elementary test on is much much shorter and I know no Swahili! Most of these languages I don’t even know well enough to get myself into trouble much less well enough to get myself out of trouble. When I want to communicate with someone who speaks any language other than my native tongue, I do what most Anglo-Americans do. I shout in English.
I tag whoever wants to be tagged.

4 thoughts on “Polyglot Meme”

  1. I’m surprised at how nearly every respondent to the Polyglot Meme challenge lists Japanese. Since Japanese is my field of expertise, I’m curious to know how much you (and others) have actually learned.

  2. Paul,
    For a several year period, I spent about two weeks out of every five in Japan. For a while, I even had an office with my name on the door there. I once went there for dinner and came home the next day! During that time, I made various attempts to learn the language. I eventfully advanced to the point where I was able to use all the polite phrases inappropriately.
    Jim,
    Yes, Latin. But see the last sentence of my reply to Paul. I suspect many of us have forgotten Latin!

  3. Italian and Russian as a child (I don’t recall much more than the Russian alphabet now however); Esperanto and Swahili as a teenager (from self-teaching books), Spanish and Latin in high school, Turkish and Anglo-Saxon as a young adult, German, Greek (Homeric, classical, koine), Coptic, and Hebrew in college, French later on. No Japanese, no Arabic, nothing in cuneiform. I echo your final comments on fluency. (Oh, yeah, and Chinook Jargon I suppose.)

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