Name: Ezekiel Zary (Hebrew name: Yehezkel Or Zari, יחזקאל אור זרי)
Nationality or Ethnicity: Israeli, Mizrahi Jewish, citizen of Portugal
Where do you live?: Everywhere? perhaps Israel?
Languages: Hebrew, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, German.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
My mom is a polyglot. She never taught me any language, but gave me the right mindset. I met people around the world and the desire to connect with them, pushed me so hard, hard enough to learn their language :)
I enjoy learning about other cultures through their language, it gives me an escape. I will never stop learning new languages, it is now my therapy.
I like to talk to any random person I meet anywhere, at any time!
And there is nothing as good as having a secret language with bilingual friends, haha. (I hope to have polyglot friends).
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practicing?
Arabic, due to its many dialects. It is intriguing for me, especially as an Arab Jew who grew up in Israel.
German, since it is very precise in its words & My proficiency is the lowest.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
So many! Russian, so I'll be able to speak with people from the large ex-USSR community in Israel.
Mandarin, since they have so many speakers, I can’t skip it! Their culture is also very intriguing in my opinion.
Turkish, Swahili & Korean just out of curiosity.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Spanish! It’s so phonetic OMG I’m loving it!
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Being able to connect to random people around the world. Many times I find myself talking to immigrants when I am in the EU / US. I always find a way to make them smile. Life is much easier when you speak other languages.
I also really enjoy the cultural difference, to decipher the way they think.
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?
Well, I am not sure. Prophecy is given to the fools. On one hand, there are new national movements that have been oppressed for years, like Catalunya. Also, it seems like there are a lot of efforts to save endangered languages like what HYPIA is doing. Hebrew has been revived; it was already pretty dormant for thousands of years (!) so maybe everything is possible? Well at least as long as a language has utility in some sort of way, it will survive/evolve.
On the other hand, globalization contributes to the value of only a few languages, giving a financial incentive to learn linguas francas…
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
It is possible! don’t ever give up! In Hebrew, there is a saying, “יגעת ומצאת, תאמין” (yagata umatzata, ta’amin). Something along the lines of, if you try hard you should get results, if you don’t get results, work harder!
Especially because you have already done it before (otherwise, how can you understand this?), you just need to find the right system for you. It is extremely valuable, it changes the structure of your brain and your personality. It is also healthy!