Name: Alberto Lati Mercado
Nationality or Ethnicity: Mexican
Where do you live?: Mexico City
Languages: Spanish, Hebrew, English, French, Italian, Greek, German, Mandarin Chinese, isiZulu, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
Being a sports journalist, I realized that the essential way to interview more characters and personalities is to speak their own language. Then, as I was based as a correspondent in eight countries besides Mexico, I had a great opportunity to empirically learn, not always with the best grammar, bur at least getting myself understood. So I started taking particular lessons a year before the opening of a sports event such as Summer Olympics or FIFA World Cups. That way I learnt Russian, even though I was not based in Russia. These languages have proved to be so helpful with my coverages and interviews.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
Russian and Japanese.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Making better stories and documentaries, with a deeper view of everywhere I travel with a camera. An interview will never be the same with the help of a translator. There is nothing as listening to the other person, to have a real dialogue and to explore better answers. The same happens while filming a story or a documentary - it is ideal to be capable of understanding whatever is developing around you. If you are willing to share a culture through a TV program, the best stories are normally hidden in the daily routine: public transport, bank lines, market, demonstrations. Speaking the local language is the first of the magic keys to achieve it.
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?
Not at all.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Practice. There is not such a secret besides of studying and making a daily effort. Learning a language is something muscular, like trying to dominate a sport, you must exercise it permanently.