The International Association of Hyperpolyglots - HYPIA. (c) 2019

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Interview with

Ines Carvalho

Name: Inês Carvalho

Nationality or Ethnicity: Portuguese and Brazilian

Where do you live? Lisbon, Portugal

Languages: Portuguese, English, Spanish, German, French, Swedish, Italian

 

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

My European Portuguese native speaker, born and raised in Portugal. I also have Brazilian nationality due to my grandma. Although I’ve never been to Brazil, I believe I’m not too bad with Brazilian accent, thanks to the Brazilian soap operas I watched in my childhood. English was the first language I learnt at school, from age 10, though I was already curious about it two years before. It was probably the hardest language for me! I graduated in Modern Languages and Literatures, English and German studies. I started French at school when I was 12. In the first year, we had a lovely teacher and it was my favourite subject, but in the following two years I didn’t like it that much. Or maybe as a teenager I was just focusing on something else. In high school I choose Humanities and I started German and Latin. I fell in love with German at first sight! I wanted to learn every single word, and at some point I even considered learning ten new words a day from the dictionary (there was no Duolingo at the time!). I dropped the dictionary idea very quickly, it was too boring. My plan was to become a psychologist, but my passion for German was such, that I did change my career plans. Being awarded a scholarship from the Pädagogischer Austauschdient to improve my language skills in Germany certainly influenced my decision. Some years later, I was an Erasmus student in Köln. German is definitely guilty for my passion for languages! Fast forward a few years. After finishing my degree in Modern Languages and Literatures, I started a Master’s in Tourism Management and Planning. While I was full of enthusiasm with an entirely new field of knowledge, I missed learning languages. So, it was around that time that I started to “binge learn” foreign languages. First Spanish, where I quickly reached C2 level. Afterwards I wandered through Mandarin, Dutch, a bit of Japanese. I moved to Sweden during my PhD in 2012 and learnt Swedish in a somewhat lazy way – the first time I didn’t really bother to learn grammar in a formal way. After coming back, I started Italian, Russian (but I forgot everything I guess) and Esperanto (started only a few weeks ago). Well, what will be the next one?

 

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

What a hard question! I think I’d choose Mandarin – because memorising characters is such a hard and time-consuming task.

 

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

Arabic, Korean, Romanian and all the languages that I’ve started but I’m still far from speaking decently, namely Russian, Japanese and Mandarin.

 

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

It’s got to be Italian or Spanish! Not only because native speakers of these languages tend to be “my type”, but also because both languages sound so “raw”.

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

Finding similar patterns across them; finding silly false friends with second meanings; communicating with people in their foreign languages; articulating thoughts using different linguistic structures. At the moment, languages are a hobby for me, and I’ve just started my own website dedicated to this passion (wordwideweb.eu). It’s still in its infancy, I do want to work on it! 

 

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?

Well, I really hope not, but I do think that there is a tendency in that direction due to globalisation.

 

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

Do it and believe in yourself! You don’t have to be a genius to become a polyglot. You just have to be passionate, persistent and consistent in your language learning!