Name: Kinga Eysturland
Nationality or Ethnicity: Polish
Where do you live?: Faroe Islands
Languages: Polish, English, Russian, Danish, Faroese, Castellano (Uruguayan Spanish)
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
Polish is my mother tongue, so I was brought up learning to speak this language. Even though I am a native speaker of Polish, since I have lived abroad for almost half of my life, I put a lot of effort in keeping my Polish skills at a decent and native level. Russian was the first foreign language I started to learn due to my mother’s ambition. She is a Russian philologist, so she tried to introduce Russian to me through songs, short stories and coloring books. Learning the Russian alphabet at a very young age confused me a little bit and I started to mix up Latin and Cyrillic letters at school, but I figured it out later. English came to me at school and while living abroad. My life determined my accent and until today I speak with a very strong American accent. Danish was my university choice. I got enrolled into Scandinavian Studies and I picked Danish as my major. This was a great challenge due to very complex pronounciacion. In the course of studies I spent over 2 years in Denmark, which was a great help in grasping the right accent and extending vocabulary. While in Denmark I met my future husband, who is Russian by origin, but lived in the Faroe Islands. I relocated to the Faroes for good in 2012, so I did not choose Faroese - Faroese chose me. Even though the Faroe Islands belong to the Kingdom of Denmark, Faroese is widely spoken in the archipelago. I believe it is one of the few small European languages that is not on the verge of extinction. Faroese is a daily language for 95% of the population, so speaking Danish did not help me here as much as I expected. It took me around 2 years to start understanding Faroese and 3 years to speak it. Faroese however, brought me an inch closer to another language I have always wanted to learn - Icelandic. I can now read most of Icelandic and understand some of the spoken Icelandic. The last language I speak is Uruguayan Spanish also known as Castellano. Before approaching it, I has zero interactions with Roman languages, so it was yet another challenge. Both me and my husband started learning Castellano, since we bought an apartment in Montevideo and got involved in some projects down there. Even though we are based in the Faroe Islands, we spend around 3-4 months in Uruguay every year.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practicing?
Definitely Castellano, as this is my weakest link. I work in the tourism industry in the Faroe Islands, so I actually do get a chance to speak all languages I know almost daily.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I dream of learning a Finno - Ugric language like Suomi or Magyar. I am moving to Hungary for a month in November, so maybe I will be able to pick up some Hungarian. Let’s see.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Not French! That’s for sure. Italian sounds sexy to me, so maybe once I master my Castellano, I should dive into some Italiano.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
The greatest pleasure is being able to balance between cultures and jokes, getting into untranslatable nuances, making friends worldwide and being able to feel like an insider for a little while. I also enjoy finding similarities in languages, common roots, illogical phrases, funny accents.
6. 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?
I think it might come true, but not within 100 years… maybe 1000. However, it will happen only if we let it happen. Projects like HYPIA prove that there is a great interest in languages and multilingualism.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Go for it! Every language has a value, even the tiniest one and the dead ones. Approach new language on the spiritual level - plug to its core and let it teach you. The results will be amazing. If you are a slow learner, try to make a language of your own.