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Interview with

Ana Dumancic Acar

Name: Ana Dumančić Acar
Nationality or Ethnicity: Croatian
Where do you live?: Croatia and Turkey
Languages: Croatian, Turkish, Italian, Spanish, English (fluent), Portuguese (intermediate), Latin, French and German (basic).

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

Croatian is my native language, Italian is my second native language, I first learned Spanish from hours and hours of watching Mexican telenovelas then I took private lessons and eventually went to Spain and had many South American friends, Portuguese I started learning at the University and continued throughout my entire life due to my obsession with Caetano Veloso. English, I learned and perfectioned by reading, travelling, preparing for C2 proficiency exam. At 33 when I had absolutely no plan or intention to learn any more languages I met my Turkish husband, took hundreds of lessons, bought all the available apps and books, spend hours writing verbal forms and eventually I learned.

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

I wish I could use more Italian and less English in my life but that’s my due to the globalisation.

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

I am more into perfectioning and maintaining my existing pool of languages rather than going into something new. But still in a moment of mania I bought the Duolingo subscription for Swedish.

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

I might be bias because I am heavily conditioned by Brazilian music that I’ve explored and loved since my teens but the passion and the rhythm Brazilian Portuguese conveys is unrivalled, however, since I met my husband but for me personally the most sensual and playful language that I know and use is Turkish.

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

As time goes by I came to deeply appreciate this momentum where there is no diploma or official acknowledgement that says more about a person’s level of intelligence or of culture than fluently speaking multiple languages. I feel that with this ace up my sleeve I never needed, nor I’ll ever need to quote philosophers or name drop famous friends or educational institutions to create an image. Also, the mere fact I have mastery of so many languages is a social confidence booster.

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?

It is not going to happen, at least not that fast. No changes ever happen overnight, preserving language diversity is a political question which needs to be addressed at the highest of levels otherwise small and rare languages can disappear. I also believe that recently English became such a dominating language it made people stop learning other languages. Especially rare ones. Many show an interest, that is true, the language industry is a money-making machine. But that is a superficial interest, with no true commitment to laborious studying of grammar, syntaxis, vocabulary and culture.

Going back not even a 100 years ago, the level of mastery of second or third languages was significantly higher. I believe the reason might be that a century ago or even just before the mass internet arrival, there were not that many distractions. There was no overload of information, and you couldn’t always rely that you can switch to English so people really invested effort in studying languages. Today I see English, at least in Europe like fast food, its quick, cheap and easy to eat, it enables communication and makes you full but it doesn’t give a person this multifaceted orgasmic pleasure derived from learning culture which lies upon the finesse of a vowel pronounced differently that conveys an abysmal semantic difference that you see for example in French or Italian language.

Also this English, that I am referring to became like a version of Esperanto.

I might be mistaken, as I can only speak from my personal point of view and based on my personal experience, but I believe that is the situation, at least in Europe.

I follow this phenomena, read and think and I came to the conclusion that a new language has been created, it is called English but its just English stripped off its essence, it’s a language based on merely 10 - 20.000 words continuously used in an increasingly simple syntaxis. A dull language adopted and profused by EU bureaucrats who in many cases when confronted with a native Australian or Irish speaker need an interpreter.

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

My message to all people who want to study languages is to actually STUDY. It is not about being immersed into a foreign country, having foreign friends, (that is all quite nice and useful, but not enough), learning a language is about an integral approached based primarily on STUDYING.

Adopt a phylosphy of Nulla dies sine linea and progress is guaranteed.

And with all due respect to the apps and videos I still am very fond of having a small notebook for each language which is your personal dictionary where you can handwrite new words you learn.

The connection between hand, pen, paper, and long-term memory is undeniable.

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