The International Association
Anca Doina Cretu
Name: Anca Doina Cretu
Nationality or Ethnicity: Romanian
Where do you live?: Switzerland (for the time being)
Languages: Romanian, English, French, Spanish, German, Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian (BCS)*, Italian*, Portuguese.*
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
The story basically goes back to when I was 5 years old and my parents decided that I carried way too much energy, so they put me through piano, tennis…and German lessons. So that is when I started my rather sinuous German experience. I started learning English and French as part of the Romanian school system, yet little did I know that I would end up living in English and French-speaking countries and cities. My adventures with these languages continued during my higher education phase, as I followed undergraduate studies at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, USA. And now, I am in the process of occasionally poking the French bear while living in Geneva, Switzerland. Spanish is one of my favourite languages, and I decided when I was about 15 years old to actually learn it, and I spent about 3 years in Spanish courses. I was taking Latin classes in highschool at the time, so things became very natural with the rest of the Romance languages. I never formally took Italian or Portuguese classes, but I can read and understand a great deal. While at uni, I became increasingly interested in studying the history and politics of Southeastern Europe, particularly the Balkan region; this took me to learning BCS, and wonderful friends and tutors helped me navigate the rather different linguistic structures and vocabularies of these languages. However, I only managed to formalize this interest in the spring of 2015, when I took an intensive language course in Zagreb, Croatia.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I would love to have more time to practice German and Spanish. Sometimes I tend to have a hard time turning the switch of these languages on when I’m not in German or Spanish speaking countries or areas…And most definitely BCS, as I am only using my knowledge in research contexts.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I would love to further navigate the Slavic language territory, so I recently started studying a bit of Russian. I hope to improve that as soon as possible. At the same time, learning Japanese is a long-term dream of mine…
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
This is actually a very difficult question, since “sexy” can have so many interpretations and meanings for each individual. I decided to go for a minority answer… so for me, German is quite sexy. For now.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
The best part of having language skills is the social bridge that ends up being built around it. It has definitely helped me communicate better with people, not just linguistically, but also on an emotional basis. Even if the language level is not perfect, the accent is messy, and the grammar is spotty, languages have given me the possibility to talk to people from all corners of the world. The lessons learned around those experiences will always be difficult to quantify, yet they have had priceless effects on the shaping of my personality and on the way I see the world.
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?
I am not sure about this statistic, but, unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised! Nonetheless, we can try to use the hyperpolyglot status and pace this “extinction” a bit.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Knowing multiple languages offers an immense amount of opportunities, personal and professional! It’s important to push your limits, linguistic as they may be, as they will train your brain, as well as emotions in relation to work or in interactions with other people. But my main advice is to enjoy the learning process, even if it can be frustrating sometimes. Always remember to have a laugh!