J Mario Morales
Name: J Mario Morales
Nationality or Ethnicity: Mexican
Where do you live? Switzerland
Languages: Spanish, English, French, Esperanto, Catalan, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Romanian, Polish, Mexican Sign Language, Chinese, Nahuatl
What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
During most of my childhood I studied English, usually not by choice and it took me around 10 years to reach a decent level. I idealised the people who have a good command of English, and if they could be fluent on another language, even more. When I was studying at the university, I wanted to learn another language, my vision of the world was only in Spanish and English. I began with French, simply because it was available at the time. After two years, I have reached a medium level, probably not great, but still I was able to make basic conversations. At that very moment I realised that I was becoming what I idealised as a kid, so I began to learn more and more languages. I found extremely useful to learn languages. I don’t have to wait for a translation to be published in order to read something. I can travel to the places where the languages that I know are spoken and experience the culture in so many ways. I also like challenges, so every single language is one in it’s own right.
Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
That’s a difficult question, since I like some languages more than others, but sometimes, those others are overall more useful if you want to improve your chances of a job, or it has more speakers. I think that taking all into account, I would say Arabic, since it’s, for me, the most difficult of all the ones I have studied so far and there are so many materials, and it’s quite useful in international organisations and has many speakers, well, speakers to an extend, considering the so called dialects of Arabic. Still, the printed resources are enough to give it a try.
What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Most likely either Hungarian, Modern Greek or Japanese. I’m also trying to make the transition from passive knowledge of Dutch and Czech into active.
So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Another difficult question with an, obviously, subjective answer, but it could be a tie between Romance and Slavic languages, probably with Portuguese and Russian leading them, respectively.
What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
The world is far more open to you. You can access the culture behind the language rather easy. It’s an ice breaker, it helps your chances to find a job, it maintains you always trying to improve them, so you wont get bored of learning.
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?
Not exactly. First of all, what is a language and what is not? Sometimes, what we can consider dialects could be considered languages and vice-versa, so the language count can never be accurate. And 100 years is, from my point of view, a short time to extinct so many languages.
What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
If you really want to learn many languages, you must be aware that it requires not only learning, but maintenance. You can’t have a good level and expect to stay like that without practice. I think that you have to make language learning a lifestyle, not simply a short challenge to achieve. That being said, the rewards are quite pleasing if you compromise with it.