Name: Maria Belka
Nationality or Ethnicity: Polish
Where do you live?: Warsaw, Poland
Languages: Polish, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
Started at middle school with English and German (forgot most of it) and then moved to Geneva for my studies. Then the whole thing took off! Learnt French at university and decided to take advantage of the multilingual city - signed up for more language courses. Then each summer I travelled to those countries for languages courses and certificates. Voilá!
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
Spanish, Italian and Russian. I barely practised them for last 5+ years. They might get rusty!
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Mon Dieu, if any, then probably it would be Chinese, but need to get over my Covid-19 fog.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
The one you use when you speak to your loved ones.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Understanding new concepts and approaches. It’s truly fascinating how different grammar and semantic constructions show how we think and behave, they show the culture.
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?
Indeed, many languages will die out (like they do every day), but I’m pretty sure that the scenario of a few languages left is little probable. First, you can’t change the ways of thinking of whole nationalities and unify it into one (and the way we speak shows the way we are). The world and its cultures are too diverse. The world is not only about optimisation! Second, I reckon languages will be taken care of as part of the human heritage, like art is being taken care of today. Third, neurolinguistics will be too helpful for scientists to understand the functioning of a human brain so languages will be studied. Hence cultivated.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Find your true motivation. Don’t study for work or money. See what’s in it for you.