Name: Bianca Carolina Marucci
Nationality or Ethnicity: Brazilian
Where do you live?: Curitiba, Brazil
Languages: Portuguese ( Native), English, French, Polish, German, Spanish and Italian.

 

1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?

I always believed in the power of words as a means to convey symbolic meaning, and consequently, as a tool to have big, deep, raw talks with any other human being. There is something wild, untamed in my nature that tends to engage in depths naturally with other people, as we are all part of the same kinship. As a child, I have learnt to utter my first words and also read quite fast – by the age of two I could read and write prolifically – hyperlexia is whats is precisely named after nowadays. As a child, I used to have several health issues, so I played alone within my rich inner world. I liked to categorise and collect specific things that I found, from leaves to pens, which were my favorite 'toys' at that time. My father, a book enthusiast and very committed to his own intellectual life often took me to the bookshops on weekends and let me choose whatever I would like to read. Thus, from an early age, I was introduced to high literature and my favorite pastime was to write my pieces on daddy's old writing machine, even when computers were available. These pieces ranged from dictionary-look-alike compilations - with words from the dictionary and other words that I created- and theatre sketches.

By the time I was a young adult, already fluent in English, I became a single mother of a disabled child - I confess that I do not fancy the term disabled very much. My first-born, Lorenzo has a rare syndrome, which impaired his full linguistic development. By the time he was a newborn, several doctors told me he might not be able to speak using conventional language. So, I decided to create new words for him – with sounds that would be easier for him to articulate. However, speaking only English and Portuguese would not take me and Lorenzo much further, so I decided to learn other languages. In those days, we were not able to find as many linguistic resources on the internet, so I applied for scholarships in linguistic institutes meanwhile ordering, copying and buying the books and resources I found. I had to juggle between being a young single mother, a student for two different degrees ( biology and language arts), being my home provider and learning multiple languages simultaneously. I have had a very heavy schedule, with little sleep. Fortunately, I obtained scholarships in language institutes, since I had recommendation letters and did well in general introductory language tests after a period of self-studying – the lack of financial resources never stoped me to get me what I wanted, since I had guts and willpower.

At first, I got a German scholarship at Goethe Institute, then I got another one in Alliance Française, and then I was able to study for free, on Saturdays, Spanish and Italian in a school that I worked during the evenings. I had also the opportunity to practice conversation in the years that I worked in a very traditional Catholic school – where I could talk to people from around the world. There, I also got interested in Latin and Greek. I was very happy to work there from 2012 to 2014. My days and nights were very busy with my first-born, my work and my studies and I lived very frugally, but 'Vincit qui si vincit'  and I was doing quite well.

In 2013, after a conversation with my grandmother, I decided to learn Polish. I have Polish-Jewish origins, although my great grandmother converted to Catholicism since she married a catholic Polish man, at the post-war colonies in Brazil. There is a certain Polish way of doing things, thinking, organising and cooking which was rooted in me due to my kinship. Granny passed away in 2014, but she is still alive in me every time I sing Mazurek Dąbrowskiego, the Polish National Anthem, from the top of my lungs. The anthem describes the brief restoration of the Polish state, led by General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski, Dąbrowski is a common surname in Poland and also my Polish family lost surname.

Due to serious health issues, I had some problems to finish my degrees, and I, unfortunately, had to drop them in 2015. Despite all the odds, in 2016 I began studying my BSc in Language Arts in Polish studies. In 2017 I received a scholarship for a summer school in Poland. In 2018, I had my second-born, Verônica. Currently, I want to finish my degree and apply for a master's degree in literature – and later on, a Ph.D. The main focus of my research is children's literature in the face of extreme – those works in which the child-hero is merged in a collapsed, wasteland-like reality, where survival takes place side-by-side with childhood itself.

Up to nowadays, when somebody is really important to me, I still like to 'carve' them a neologism – to address the meaningful and unique representation one has in my inner world.

 

 

2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?

I believe that I have to advance my studies in Polish, for academic and personal reasons. I would also enjoy being able to practice German a little more since it is quite useful for my phenomenological studies in literature.

 

3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?

It would be personally rewarding to learn both Hebrew and Yiddish, not only because of my origins but also because of several cultural aspects. Also, I would like to learn Esperanto, which is a language rooted in the beautiful principles of isonomy between the nations.

4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?

For me, categorically – Italian. Whenever I have the pleasure of hearing someone speaking Italian, it brings me straightly to a sultry atmosphere from the old days. It reminds me of the great Italian Divas of the film industry such as Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, and Monica Belucci – my role models of beauty, sensuality and femininity – so underrated nowadays. Undoubtedly, aesthetics plays a vital role in the tiny decisions that we make to build up our identity. Personally, I enjoy putting up Italian aesthetics, when I want to feel sexy – linguistically speaking is no different.

 

5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?

Personally, there is no greater pleasure than to enjoy my solitary journey of reading literature in original languages while peacefully drinking a glass of wine and listening to jazz divas. It is simply quite hedonistic, I know – therefore, I feel alive. It is like having a very intimate conversation with the authors. I do also enjoy being able to go anywhere and have deep, intricate talks with pretty much anybody from different backgrounds, as idealistic as it sounds - for me, speaking different languages is a means to convey empathy.

 

6. Some people say the world is really just going to have a few languages left in 100 years, do you think this is true?

I think that is ultimate, an extrapolation – from a raw perspective. There are many more nuances in language evolution apart from this assertion. Although languages become extinct due to natural processes, the whole scenario projected by this inference seems to be accelerating. However, due to A.I technologies, internet and new legislations, several alternatives have been developed for further incentives for minority languages to thrive. It is also valid to mention that free online platforms provide people with resources to learn all kinds of languages – even the ones that are not widely spoken. Thus, there is an increase in the number of speakers of some either seemly forgotten languages or on the verge of extinction ones. It is an elegant phenomenon stemming from this sequence of events that many linguists from the past would gladly witness.

7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?

First things first – be a go-getter. If you are passionate about something, do not wait for better circumstances or miracles to happen. Reality is raw and you have to manage many limited resources. Time is, by far, the most valuable one. Often, life is less generous than linear preconceived ideas of effortless success at an early age portrayed by the media and your family. Do not listen to bad advice from people who have not been walking in your shoes. Take the plunge and do the job – the only way out is through.  On the other hand, be humble to learn with the right people, be sensible when someone is mentoring you. Avoid being irresponsible or dismissive of important details. Thom Yorke could not be more accurate in the song Just, by saying - You do it to yourself, you do and that's what really hurts.

Second – while learning a language, be aware of syntax and grammar in the very beginning. This will allow you to cut to the chase and save you some valuable years. Of course, things could be interactive and fun, but if you want to achieve mastery, it is wise to cut a bit of fun and games and understand the core aspects of the language you are learning. After that, of course, you should deepen your understanding of metaphors and nuances to achieve proficiency. I have already taken this path many times and still have a thousand miles to go.

Third -  Do not let other people's judgment and platitudes blur your vision, neither let your current circumstances dictate your future. Take this as a leitmotif.  When I was younger, I used to think that talent would outshine my flaws. I could not be more wrong. Make an effort to be on the top of your game, talent itself does not do the job. Mastery pays off. Be humble while learning, you don't know everything.

Interview with
Bianca Marucci

The International Association of Hyperpolyglots - HYPIA. (c) 2020

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