The International Association
Name: Hammad Rind
Nationality or Ethnicity: British Pakistani
Where do you live?: Wales, UK
Languages: Urdu, English, Persian, Turkish, Punjabi, Saraiki, French, Italian, Arabic*, Hindi*, Sindhi*, Spanish*, Yiddish**
* Reading ** Currently studying
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
As a child, I wanted to follow my father's footsteps, who was studying Arabic in a foreign university. It was rather unusual in our region to dedicate so much time and effort to learning a language. At the same time, the example set by my father offered me inspiration from an early age. I started teaching myself Persian when I was ten without much external help. Around the same time, I found interest in French and Italian. However, having not many resources at hand at the time, I had to start learning them with whatever little material was available in these languages. At times, it was television manuals or usage instructions in medicine boxes.
As I grew up and became interested in the history and culture of various regions and people, I felt a strong desire to learn their language. It somehow felt natural that language was the key to understanding a culture. I currently work as a foreign language researcher for a financial firm. I am also a writer and primarily write in English, Urdu and Persian. Learning languages has been a constant throughout my life, and I am always learning a new language. I am currently studying Yiddish and the Jewish dialect of Baghdadi Arabic at the Oxford School of Rare Jewish Languages.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I can read classical (fusha) Arabic, however, due to the vast diversity of Arabic dialects, I haven't been able to adequately focus on any one dialect in order to become fluent in it. In the future, I would like to spend more time on learning the Levantine dialects of Arabic.
I picked up Japanese a few years ago, but realised that I needed more time in order to master the various scripts used to write it. I am waiting for a 'quiet' stage in my life to be able to finally start learning Japanese.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Levantine Arabic, Balochi, Japanese, German, Russian
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
As someone who is passionate about the classical literary traditions in Middle East and South Asia, I am in constant awe of Persian. For many centuries, it was hugely influential in leaving a profound impact on the languages, literatures and cultures in a vast region from the Balkans to Bengal (sometimes termed as the Persianate World). I love how acquiring this language and its literature enables you to understand so many cultures at the same time. I find myself fortunate to be able to speak it.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
I enjoy being able to read books in the languages they were originally written. Being able to speak with native speakers makes me feel that I'm being invited into their culture. It may not always be true but it certainly offers a great pleasure.
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?
There is certainly a threat to many languages across the globe but I don't think most languages will go completely extinct. I think there will be a few major and influential lingua franca and more and more people will be at least bilingual in their regional language and a lingua franca.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Patience, passion and perseverance are the key to learning any language. There are no short cuts. At the same time, nothing should stop you. A skilled and eager learner can always find resources to learn or practise a language.