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Interview with

Alberto Frasson

Name: Alberto Frasson
Nationality or Ethnicity: Italian
Where do you live: Wrocław, Poland
Languages: Italian and Veneto (native), Serbian, English, Furlan, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish and Portuguese (fluent), Dutch, German and French (conversational).

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

I was always fascinated by the sound of languages. I started studying English at primary school and I remember spending hours listening to the short dialogues on the CD that came with my English coursebook, often without understanding them, just because I enjoyed the sound of English. I spent hours watching foreign tv-channels, even though I could not understand the language. I just loved to hear their sound. In my work as a linguist I specialise in syntax. But when it comes to learning a new language, the sound, rather than the structure, plays a major factor for me: even at school, when I had the chance of choosing between French and Russian, I chose Russian because I fell in love with the way it sounded. I love the sound of all the languages I know and I am constantly looking for new languages that sound good to me: I will definitely learn them someday!


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

Right now I wish I could spend more time practicing Polish. I live in Poland and I would like to speak good Polish in order to be able to speak with locals. It may also be useful for my job. I wish I had spent more time practicing Dutch when I lived in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, learning a language is a matter of passion for me; I can hardly think of doing it out of necessity.


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

Based on the way they sound, I would say Turkish and Farsi. I would also like to learn more Slavic languages, especially Bulgarian, Macedonian and Ukrainian.


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

Among the ones I know, I think Dutch and Serbian are the sexiest ones. But if I have to name the sexiest language on earth, I would probably go with Turkish.


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

Speaking many languages is itself a pleasure, in my view. Learning the way different grammars function, how different languages express the same concepts. I think it’s magical.


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?

No, I think it’s false. People saying this forget about language change, something that shapes the way we speak, day after day, generation after generation. No speaker of a given language is exactly identical to other speakers of the same language. And there are so many factors involved in this change. Languages get in contact with each other, they get mutually influenced, they change. Some languages will eventually die out, diachrony tells us that. But new systems will emerge. In this respect, I find that the emergence of new creoles and mixed languages is particularly interesting, as it disproves the idea that in a hundred years we will all speak the same language.


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

Do not stress out over rules and norms. Language is the most unique and beautiful faculty human beings have, it allows us to express our ideas. In my opinion, learning a language should be a natural process, a discovery. Take your time to really feel the language!

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