Name: Manuel Paleteiro Marcos
Nationality or Ethnicity: Spanish
Where do you live?: Sevilla (Spain)
Languages: Spanish, English, German, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, French, Portuguese and some Indonesian
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I grew up as a monolingual Spanish speaker and I wasn't very good at English when I was studying it as a kid in the school (or at least that's what I thought at the time). My passion had always been to travel around the world and to meet people from other countries, so I realized that in order to do that I needed to know at least another language.
I started to focus on English and French and I discovered that I loved being able to talk to people in these languages and specially the connection that you could create by speaking in someone else's mother tongue. I started learning languages like Italian and German (which is a language that I ended up speaking very often because I lived in Germany for more than a year) and later on I continued with languages like Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese or Indonesian, which is the language that I am currently learning.
Once you learn several languages you can't stop learning more and it becomes less complicated than the first 2 or 3 languages. Thanks to all these languages I have been able to travel to more than 35 countries in 4 continents and I can say that I have friends all over the world!
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I would like to practice Mandarin Chinese more often and of course Indonesian because I don't know many people in my city who can speak it.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I'm very interested in Asian languages so Japanese and Korean are on my list. I find languages such as Greek or Turkish also very interesting and maybe in the long term I'd like to learn Russian or Arabic.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Italian! Although I also like the way Norwegian and Greek sound.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Being able to have a deeper connection when you speak in someone else's language is amazing. It gives you the freedom to travel and to become part of the culture of another country or nation. It's the best way to really get to know the diversity of the world from inside.
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, the loss of linguistic diversity has accelerated in recent years. We live in an increasingly globalized world where only a few languages are used internationally. I am currently researching minority languages spoken in the Southwest of the United States (In Arizona, where I studied for 5 months) and there are some revitalization programs in place to keep those languages alive. It really depends on us whether those languages will survive and still be spoken 100 years from now or not. When a language dies, all its culture and information that has been passed on for hundreds and thousands of years is lost. It is important to protect those languages because they are part of the history of all mankind.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Do it! Start today even if it's just for a few minutes a day. No matter how old you are, it's never too late to start. It can be difficult at first, but the advantages of being able to speak several languages are countless, especially if you like to travel and get to know the world and the people who live in it.