Name: Carlos Viveros De León
Nationality or Ethnicity: Mexican
Where do you live?: Mexico
Languages: Spanish, English, Finnish, German, Portuguese (fluent), French, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Japanese (conversant).
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I was born and raised in Piedras Negras, Mexico which is a border town next to Texas. As part of this lifestyle, it is quite common to go shopping or visiting Texas even once a week. So back in the 90’s, we would wait even months for a good movie or an album from an artist to be released in Mexico. Instead of waiting, we would go to Texas and get this stuff first, of course in English. That was my first approach to the language. I got enough books, cd’s, movies all in English, which I was not able to fully comprehend (I was 7 years old). But would help me to understand the advantage of a new language.
Then at the age of 11, I discovered the German band “Rammstein”. I was immediately wild about the music but especially the language, I had never heard anything like that before. I got the album which had the lyrics in the booklet, and that is how it got started for Deutsch.
At age 13, also because of music, I discovered the Finnish language. And I was now more surprised at this new language that had nothing to do with anything else. I got the opportunity to go as an exchange student to Finland at age 17 and the rest is history. By that same time, I got a book for learning Norwegian, also once again, because of music.
Back in Mexico, I started to take advantage of the languages offered at my University, so I started taking Italian, French, Portuguese and Japanese. Mandarin is the last language that I have started to learn. It helped me in some way knowing already some basic Kanjis from Japanese.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
It depends on the mood that I have for practicing a language, but I try to make it somewhat even. Currently I am focusing on French.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Persian and Icelandic have always been in my mind. I’m also kind of flirting with Russian.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Norwegian has the most melodic sound. I’m in love with Finnish vocabulary. But sexiest would be Italian for me.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
People’s reaction when you speak their language. Watching movies and understanding that thing written or someone speaking in a foreign language.
Perfectly singing the lyrics in a concert of your favourite German band.
Getting jokes in another languages is even funnier.
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 hope this won’t happen as it would just make the world more boring. Different languages create different cultures and understanding them makes everything more interesting.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Nowadays we are living in an era where it is even easier to learn languages and I know that polyglots all over the world are taking advantage of this. It is never too late to learn a language, but it does require a lot of discipline and motivation. Start with that language you have always wanted to learn, ask a tutor for advice, and start learning ASAP!