Name: Marco Antonio da Guarda Barbosa Ribeiro
Nationality or Ethnicity: Brazilian
Where do you live?: Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Languages: Portuguese, Spanish, English and Galician, Italian, French and Catalan.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
Since I was a child I’ve been interested in learning foreign languages. When I was 7 years old I went to a trip to Paraguay and Argentina with my family and I started learning Spanish reading an old grammar book that my father had. Immediately I could learn some basic words and when we travelled I could talk some “Portuñol” with Paraguayan and Argentine people. When I was 9 years old I began to have particular English classes. When I was a teenager I continued to study English in language schools and during this period I started learning other languages. The third foreign language I studied was Esperanto, when I was 14 years old. I became interested in Esperanto because I support the idea of an universal neutral language easy to learn. When I was 15 years old I started learning Galician, my fourth foreign language. I became interested in this language because of its similarity with Portuguese. Then I learned French, Italian and Catalan. When I was 17 years old I went on a trip to Europe with my family. We visited Italy, France and Portugal and I could say some phrases in French and Italian without any trouble. When I was in Rome I bought a Romanian grammar book written in Italian language. Obviously the Romanian was the next language I studied, followed by Serbo-Croatian and Macedonian, languages that I focused because of my interest in ex-Yugoslavia countries, mainly Serbia. In 2014 I began to learn Tupi, an indigenous language of Brazil, because I’d like to learn the meaning of Brazil cities’ names and the origin of some words we use every day. Later on I started learning Korean and Japanese, and also Ido, a version of Esperanto that is easier to learn and more practical because of some characteristics. In 2018 I started learning Latin, because of my interest to learn about the origin of Portuguese and other Romance languages.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I think now it’s Korean and Japanese, the languages I’ve been focusing on. Korean was motivated by my passion to K-pop music and my wish to visit South Korea someday. And Japanese because of I have a cultural interest in Japan also.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
German, Russian, Arabic and Ancient Greek
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
I think it’s Spanish, it’s so “caliente”
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
By learning many languages we have the opportunity of knowing people from many countries around the world and to know more about their cultures.
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?
Unfortunately, it’s true, because currently there is a imposition of some languages and it affects ethnic minorities. In Brazil, for example, there are about 270 indigenous languages, but only a few have more than 10.000 speakers.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Enjoy it and learn what you want, don’t care about what people say. There are no useless languages.