Interview with

Luisa Meneghetti

Name: Luisa Meneghetti
Nationality: Italian
Where do you live? Moving across the Alps, between Switzerland and the rest of the world (but mostly Switzerland)
Languages: English, French, Swedish, Spanish, Russian and Italian

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

I  guess it all started when, as a sociable 4-year-old Italian girl on  holiday in a Spanish-speaking country, I decided that Spanish was an  easy language: just put an –S at the end of each word! Many years after  that, my thirst for understanding the world I lived in, led me to enrol  in linguistic studies within the Italian liceo. English, French and  Russian soon were not enough anymore; in my quest for independence, I  moved abroad to attend the Swedish gymnasiet. Back in the days when  Facebook was just an idea across the pond, and Duolinguo didn’t exist at  all, it was a pioneering and risky move. Despite being self-taught, I  ended up speaking the local language so well that distant relatives of  my host family believed I was one of the siblings. Fast-forwarding a few  years later, I received an Erasmus scholarship to continue my human  rights studies in Geneva, Switzerland. I have been living here ever  since, and am currently working in the sector I studied for. Geneva is a  true linguistic nirvana. This “global village”, as I like to call it,  gathers people from all corners of the world: on my typical day, I  happen to cross path with speakers of dozens different languages; in my  team alone, we are natives of six different languages, and add to them  at least another couple each. Diversity is a treasure, and I could not  imagine a world without it.


2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?

Definitely  Russian. It is one of those languages that pose as many challenges  while you learn them, as rewards, once you ultimately can interact with  people who speak them.


3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?

I’ve  always chosen my languages according to what resonated with my life in  that specific moment in time. Right now, I deem it is time to let  Turkish, Portuguese and Moroccan Arabic join the club. These languages  are all deeply connected with places I love, and which feel like home to  me. It is therefore natural to long for a deeper connection also with  the people who live there.


4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?

The  sexiest language is the one you speak with the most passion! When you  put your entire self -mind and heart – in sharing your thoughts,  feelings and fears, people can’t help but be captured by your words,  regardless of the language you actually use.


5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?

I  love to camouflage! Usually, nobody ever guesses my true nationality –  people get stuck somewhere in the realm of Anglo-Saxon countries, or  they turn to Eastern Europe altogether (however, I have once been asked  if I was from Tunisia). They certainly do not expect an Italian born to  (quote) “speak without an accent”. In this regard, I also enjoy breaking  stereotypes that surround languages and those who speak such languages.


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?

Sadly,  I think this is a possibility that will occur in a much nearer future.  However, technologies and other tools have already been developed in  order to mitigate the effects of this loss. As I already said, diversity  is a treasure. I am doing my part to help keep it in this world, and I  hope many others will join the effort.


7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?

Languages  open doors of opportunities, you don’t want to miss out on them! What I  learnt from my experience is the following: it is pivotal to choose a  language which resonates and makes sense with your personal or  professional life, not because it is trendy. Don’t worry if it looks  like your choice is going against the mainstream. Later on, you will  surely be rewarded for your honesty towards yourself, and for your bold  choice.

The International Association of Hyperpolyglots - HYPIA. (c) 2020

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