Name: Andrew Boas
Nationality or Ethnicity: American
Where do you live?: Washington, D.C.
Languages: English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Catalan, Mandarin Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese*, Dutch*, Welsh*, Ladino*, Florentine**, Latin, Attic (Koine) Greek, Targum (Aramaic)
**Disputed Italian dialect
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I’ve loved languages and communicating with people from a young age and have been adding more languages to my list as I’ve gotten older and fallen in love with more places, cultures, peoples, and tongues.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I really wish I could practice Welsh more often because I think it’s a really beautiful language in terms of phonetics. Unfortunately, I rarely come across Welsh speakers and only around 20% of Welsh people even speak Welsh. I’ve read a lot in the language though and am always looking for book suggestions to arfer Cymraeg!
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I’d love to actively learn Cornish at some point and am definitely interested in Breton as well. Basque is interesting linguistically so I’d love to dive into that. Romanian is the only major Romance language I don’t know but I’d much rather study a minority language like Sardu.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
I don’t know about sexiest but the most beautiful language is clearly British-accented English! Well, Italian is pretty nice too. I’m a huge fan of how Catalan, Welsh, and Dutch sound but I’m not sure they’d necessarily be called “sexy”.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
By far, it’s the ability to talk to people practically wherever I go with comfort and being able to properly immerse myself in a culture that isn’t my own. I just love talking to people and getting to know places on a more personal level and knowing this many languages helps me do just that.
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 way! A loss of language is a loss of history and culture. While I’m sure languages will evolve and change significantly as they always have, perhaps even morph together, there will always be a wide variety of them!
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Learning languages is really a question of passion and perseverance above anything else. This means you can’t give up if you get tired of trying to learn grammar rules or memorizing vocabulary. However, this also means you will fall in love with the languages you learn and appreciate their nuances, intricacies, and even difficulties.