representative of the World Esperanto Association at the United Nations

Name: Cesco Reale
Nationality or Ethnicity: Italian
Where do you live?: Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Languages: 

Mother Tongue: Italiano.

Fluent (C level): Esperanto, Français, Español, Português, English

Medial (B level): Deutsch (Germana), Catalá, Româna, Ελληνικά (Greka), Latina, Galego

Baza (A level): 中文 (Ĉina), Русский (Rusa), Nederlands, Sardu

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

Il y a eu 2 clés: l'Espéranto et les tandems (échange linguistiques, principalement avec les étudiants Erasmus). L'Espéranto est la première langue étrangère que j’ai pu vraiment parler et utiliser et celle qui aide le plus à apprendre d’autres langues (ici une de mes conférences sur l'espéranto). Cela m’a mis en contact avec un monde de gens passionnés par les langues et la diversité culturelle, qui m’a donné une énorme motivation et envie d’apprendre d’autres langues. Ensuite, j'ai rencontré les étudiants Erasmus à Pise (où j'ai étudié l'ingénierie de la voix) et avec eux j'ai commencé la plupart de mes autres langues (voici l'une de mes conférences sur les échanges linguistiques).
Vous trouverez plus d'informations sur mes techniques dans cette table ronde d’hyperpolyglottes à laquelle j'ai participé pendant le Congrès Polyglotte 2014.

 

There were 2 keys: Esperanto and tandems (language exchanges, mainly with Erasmus students). Esperanto is the foreign language that I first could really speak and use and that most helps to learn other languages (here is one of my talks about Esperanto). This put me in touch with a world of people passionate about languages and cultural diversity, which gave me a huge motivation and desire to learn other languages. Then I met the Erasmus students in Pisa (where I studied voice engineering) and with them I began most of my other languages (here one of my talks about language exchanges). You can find more on my techniques in this hyperpolyglot panel in which I participated in the Polyglot Gathering 2014.

 

Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practicing?

Illas rarissimas: galitianam et sardam. Diu desideravi locutores linguae graecae invenire, sed nunc mihi sunt optimi amici graeci et cum eis saepe loqui possum.

 

The rarest ones: Galician and Sardinian. For a long time I was starving for Greek, but now I have some great Greek friends and I can practice often with them.

 

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

Ich habe nicht wirklich vor, andere Sprachen zu lernen, aber ich habe Arabisch angefangen und wenn ich die Gelegenheit hätte, würde ich gerne Schweizerdeutsch verbessern (hauptsächlich passiv), Swahili wieder anfangen (ich hatte vor Jahren ein Niveau A1 erreicht) und Rätoromanisch wieder anfangen (auch wenn es eine Schweizer Sprache ist, ist es fast unmöglich, in dieser Region Sprecher zu finden) und vielleicht könnte ich eines Tages Japanisch, Hindi oder eine Klicksprache beginnen. Aber ich träume nur.

 

I don’t really plan to learn other languages, but I started Arabic and if I have the opportunity I would like to improve Swiss German (mainly passively), to restart Swahili (I had reached a A1 level years ago) and Romansh (even though it is a Swiss language, it is almost impossible to find speakers in this region), and maybe one day I could begin Japanese, Hindi or what they call "click languages". But I am just dreaming.

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

Sem dúvida: o Português do Brasil! É alegre e melódico, muito emocional para mim (ver o início da minha palestra O prazer sensual da pronúncia, 3:40 - 6:25). Mas admito que também francês e espanhol têm uma certa fascinação sexy, o francês é elegante e charmoso, o espanhol é extrovertido, direto e rico de sedução. E claramente muitos dizem o italiano, acredito mas como nativo é difícil julgar.

 

No doubt: Brazilian Portuguese! It is joyful and melodic, very emotional to me (see the beginning of my talk The sensual pleasure of pronunciation , 3:40-6:25). Then I admit that also French and Spanish have a certain sexy fascination, French is classy and charming, Spanish is extroverted, direct and rich with seduction. And of course many say Italian, I believe it but as native speaker it is difficult to judge.

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

Es escuchar conferencias, canciones y películas en muchos idiomas. Es disfrutar pronunciando sonidos extraños y palabras extranjeras. Es entender conversaciones en diferentes idiomas en lugares públicos. Es sorprender a personas que acabo de conocer hablando con ellos en su idioma. Es viajar en muchos países, siendo capaz de comunicar. Es ponerse en contacto con muchas culturas diferentes, tener amigos de diferentes nacionalidades y de todo el mundo. Es ser parte de la comunidad que habla una lengua, participando a fiestas, encuentros culturales y mas: donde vivo yo soy o he sido parte de la comunidad griegohablante, chinohablante, hispanohablante, esperantohablante, etc. ; y digo griegohablante y no griega porque hay también chipriotas, o personas de otras nacionalidades que por varias razones (matrimonio, trabajo, etc.) han aprendido griego y son partes de la comunidad, entonces el factor común es mucho más la lengua que la nacionalidad; mismo discurso para las otras comunidades que he mencionado.

 

It is listening to talks, songs and movies in many languages. Enjoying pronouncing strange sounds and foreign words. Understanding conversations in different languages in public places. Surprising new acquaintances talking to them in their language. Being able to communicate while travelling in many countries. Getting in contact with many different cultures, having friends from many different nationalities and all over the world. Being part of the community that speaks a language, participating in parties, cultural meetings and more: where I live I am and have been part of the Greek-speaking, Chinese-speaking, Spanish-speaking, Esperanto-speaking communities, and more; and I say Greek-speaking and not Greek, because there are also Cypriots, or people of other nationalities who have learned Greek for various reasons (marriage, work, etc.) and are part of the community, so the common factor is much more the language than the nationality; similarly for the other communities that I mentioned.

 

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

Ĉi tiu estas la centra temo de miaj agoj kiel reprezentanto de la Monda Esperanto-Asocio ĉe Unuiĝintaj Nacioj en Ĝenevo (ĉi tie unu el miaj alparoloj). Mi kredas je pozitiva tutmondiĝo, en kiu ĉiu popolo havas la eblecon gardi sian kulturon kaj lingvon, kaj koni aliajn kulturojn kaj lingvojn. Mi ne kredas je tutmondiĝo, en kiu unu dominanta novkoloniiga lingvo fariĝas pli kaj pli grava, tiel ke la internacia komuna kulturfono fariĝas ĉiam plie tiu de la dominanta lingvo, pri granda parto de la kulturo, kiel ekzemple kino, literaturo, scienco, muziko ktp. En la nuna kadro, ĉi tiu situacio faciligas la rapidan malaperon de la plej multaj mondaj lingvoj kaj kulturoj, komencante de la minoritataj lingvoj. Kaj la plejmulte parolataj lingvoj fariĝas lokaj lingvoj, kaj iliaj parolantoj perceptas kiel pli moderna, mojosa kaj profesia uzi kaj misuzi pruntvortojn el la dominanta lingvo, anstataŭigante ilin al ekzistantaj vortoj en siaj lingvoj, aû ne serĉante novajn tradukojn por la novaj vortoj.

 

This is the central theme of my actions as representative of the World Esperanto Association at the United Nations in Geneva (here is one of my interventions). I believe in a positive globalisation in which each person has the possibility to keep their culture and language, and to know other cultures and languages. I don’t believe in a globalisation in which one dominant neocolonial language becomes more and more important, so that the international common background becomes more and more that of the dominant language, concerning a large part of the culture, such as cinema, literature, science, music, etc. In the current scenario, this situation is easing the quick disappearance of most of the world languages and cultures, beginning with the minority languages. And most other widely spoken languages become local languages, and their speakers perceive as more modern, cool and professional using and abusing loanwords from the dominant language, substituting them to existing words in their languages, or not looking for new translations for new words.

 

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

Molte persone dicono: sono negato per le lingue. Come se fosse una condizione: pelle nera o bianca, occhi blu o verdi. L'apprendimento delle lingue è una questione di pratica, metodo e motivazione. E, soprattutto, è un modo di vivere, una scelta per cercare altre culture e nuovi amici con diversi punti di vista, hai solo bisogno del coraggio di liberarti dalle tue barriere mentali e di mettere in dubbio le tue certezze. Devi scrollarti di dosso la paura di fare errori, e provare a parlare in ogni occasione, pronto ad accettare e chiedere correzioni. E hai bisogno dell'umiltà di ridiventare un bambino e di ripartire da zero, imparando di nuovo come si dice “ciao”. Studiare una lingua, o molte lingue, o anche varie lingue in parallelo, può essere molto facile se lo si fa col giusto approccio. Questi sono alcuni dei concetti che propongo nei miei seminari di lingua Glottophilia.

 

Many people say: I am not good at languages. As if it were a condition: black or white skin, blue or green eyes. Learning languages is a matter of practice, method and motivation. And most importantly it is a way of life, a choice to look for other cultures and for new friends with different points of view, you just need the courage to free yourself from your mental barriers, to question your certainties. You have to lose the fear to make errors, and you should try to speak in every occasion, being ready to accept and ask for corrections.  And you need the humility to re-become a child and to restart from zero, learning again how to say “hello”. Studying a language, or many languages, or even several languages in parallel, can be very easy if you do it with the right approach. These are some of the concepts I propose in my language workshops Glottophilia

Interview with
Cesco Reale

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

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