Antonio Mazin Rivera
Name: Antonio Adrián Mazín Rivera
Nationality or Ethnicity: Mexican (Mestizo)
Where do you live?: Mexico City
Languages: C2-C1: Spanish, English, Mandarin Chinese, French, Italian, Lebanese Arabic; B2-B1: Portuguese, Standard Arabic, German, Galician, Egyptian Arabic, Iraqi Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, Catalan; A2-A1: Hebrew, Russian, Emilian, Swiss German, Serbian, Macedonian, Polish, Korean, Japanese, Lombard, Veneto. Just started learning: Turkish, Farsi, Greek, Cantonese, Uyghur, Uzbek, Dutch, Armenian, Georgian.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
As a kid I realized I wanted to speak differently from those around me. I don’t know why. As soon as I learned that there are different languages in the world, I felt the need to learn them all. However, it was not until the age of 14 that I started actively learning languages. It all began with English, which I had been studying since Kindergarten, but since I had always hated it, I hadn’t learned much. At 14, I came in terms with the fact that I had no other choice but to learn English, and I also realized that knowing English represented a huge opportunity to learn other languages, especially back in the day when almost any good material was only available in English. As soon as I achieved a sort of fluent level, I moved on to the next languages, which were Arabic, Chinese, and French. After that, I started adding all sorts of languages into the list, and at the age of 17, I had the opportunity to study in China for the very first time. After that first experience in Beijing, I came back to Mexico City to finish my high school studies, and right after that, I decided to go back to China. I lived in Beijing for almost 7 years. Those years there helped me to learn and practice many other languages, such as Serbian, Macedonian, Korean, Italian, Emilian, and so on, and so forth. Now that I’m back in my hometown working as a freelance interpreter, translator and language tutor, I began learning Turkish, Farsi, Hebrew and Russian, and started to improve the languages in which I currently have a C1, or B2-B1 levels, to get them closer to a C2 and be able to use them professionally.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I’d probably say German, Swiss-German, Catalan, Emilian, and Galician. I don’t know many people who speak these languages, therefore the oral and written practice that I have is very little.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Adding more languages to the list that I already wrote in the beginning, I’d say: Nahuatl, Totonacan, Aranese, Occitan, Mongolian, Kazakh, Hindustani, Thai, Indonesian, Tagalog, Swedish, Icelandic, Czech, Albanian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Finnish, Amazigh, Ukrainian, Pashto, Turkmen, Swahili, Amharic, Aramaic, Somali, and maybe another Caucasian language, I love how they sound.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
It depends on who’s speaking it! 😄
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Understanding other views of the world, being able to see different sides to one same coin. Understanding and learning to appreciate, love, and respect other ways of thinking, seeing life, conceiving Nature, the Universe, and the beliefs of each culture.
Number two would be being able to speak to people in their native tongue and therefore being able to get closer to them, making new friends.
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?
Unfortunately, I do. Even though there are many people like us who really appreciate and try to fight against the extinction of minority languages, most of the time the attitude of native speakers is to stop speaking them, and giving more importance to the majority language spoken in their area. I believe there are ways to slow down the process and maybe even revert it, but already many people around the world have lost the language spoken by their parents and/or grandparents. Whether it is in the Americas with our indigenous languages, or in Europe with the minority languages spoken in Spain, France, Italy, or in Asia with the different Chinese ‘dialects’ and the languages of the ethnic minorities.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
It is possible, and we are all capable of doing it. There is nothing more enriching for a person and healthier for humankind than to study other languages.