Maria Fernanda Ribeiro
Name: Maria Fernanda Ribeiro
Nationality or Ethnicity: Brazilian
Where do you live? Sao Paolo
Languages: Brazilian Portuguese, French, English, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Catalan
What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I grew up in Brazil with a passion for learning more about the world. Brazil is a very multiracial country so we have exposure to many international languages here, and Brazil also has many indigenous languages that are also very interesting to learn about. I always want to travel abroad, so I did my university studies in Europe when I was in my early twenties and that’s when I started to really ramp up on many Indo-European languages. In fact, I only speak Indo-European languages but they are from the Germanic and Romance sub-families. I use some of these in my job as a translator, but my main source of work is website design and knowing languages helps me there too because I can get clients from many different countries. So in my case, knowing so many languages is my bread-and-butter!
Which language do you wish you could spend more time practicing?
I don’t practice German or Dutch very much, even though there are quite a few German speaking people in Brazil, but they tend to speak Portuguese with me. I would like to travel to the Netherlands and Germany again to continue practicing.
What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I would like to learn some West African languages because my heritage is Afro-Brazilian. Also, it would be very cool to learn indigenous Brazilian languages too. Their grammar is quite different from the Romance languages so it will certainly take more effort.
So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Brazilian Portuguese is very sexy, because it has a kind of singing quality. I also find Middle-eastern languages like Arabic and Persian to be very nice.
What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Making new friends is the biggest pleasure. Being very mobile around the world is the second benefit, and very important to me. Also, it doesn’t hurt to earn a living thanks to being a hyperpolyglot either.
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 hope that this is not true, but I have seen this in Brazil because Portuguese has allowed many different people to come together as one country. Unfortunately, I only speak languages that have large cultural footprints in the world, so I am not helping this cause!
What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Please learn new languages, they add so much richness to life in so many ways! I cannot even imagine how things would be today if I wasn’t so connected with the world!