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Interview with

Jaqueline Cassemiro

Name: Jaqueline Cassemiro
Nationality or Ethnicity: Brazilian
Where do you live?: São Paulo - Brazil
Languages: Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, English

1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?

When I was a teenager I taught myself English through music and movies, and I also fell in love with the French language through music.

At the age of 18 I moved from the small town where I was born to São Paulo, where I started studying for a degree in Portuguese and German Language and Literature. At the university I also started to study French, as well as other languages ​​such as Czech, Russian, Armenian, Yiddish and Latin.

When I was studying for my bachelor's degree, I had the opportunity to be an exchange student in Paris, where I was able to study two of my favorite languages: Finnish and Icelandic.

In 2017 I was granted a scholarship for the Master Erasmus Mundus en Cultures Littéraires Européennes (CLE). I lived in France for a year and then moved to Italy for another year, so I was able to continue working on my French and also learn Italian, in addition to studying some modern Greek.

After my master's degree I returned to Brazil, where I currently live. I started a second bachelor's degree in Language and Literature, this time with an emphasis on Hebrew. I also started to study ancient Greek and Tupi, a language once used as a lingua franca throughout Brazil. I resumed the study of the Spanish as well, the only language other than English that I have never studied in a university context.

2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
Hebrew. This is the focus of my current bachelor's degree, however most of my time is dedicated to working full time, so the time I dedicate to studying the language is very limited.

3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
A language I have wanted to learn for a long time is the Brazilian sign language (Libras).

In addition, I recently started studying the Tupi language. It is a great opportunity to learn about the history of my own country through words, so I intend to continue with this language and then start Nheengatu, another indigenous language.

Romanian is also a language that I find very interesting and I'd like to learn it at some point.

4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
French spoken with an Italian accent.

5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
For me, the contact with different cultures is always the biggest motivation. In my experience, people are much more open when you make an effort to speak their language, even if it is a single word.

It is also a very useful skill for traveling and also for accessing literature that may not have been translated. I wrote my master's thesis on translation, so even being able to compare one translation to another is a huge pleasure, as each translated work is a whole new universe.

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 many languages continue to disappear all the time, but in my opinion as long as languages are an essential part of people's identity they will be preserved and will continue to evolve. I also think that initiatives to preserve languages at risk of disappearing, such as Tupi and other indigenous languages in Brazil, are crucial.

7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Never give up on learning a language you like, even if other people say it is not "useful". It is never too late to start learning, and learning new things is always amazing!

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