The International Association
Name: Marin Tudor
Nationality or Ethnicity: nationality Italian-Croatian, ethnicity Fiuman
Where do you live?: Zurich (CH)
Languages: Italian, Croatian, English, Venetian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I was born in Fiume-Rijeka, back then a Yugoslav and today a Croatian city, officially bilingual Italian-Croatian, that has traditionally been a major cultural and linguistic melting pot of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Back in the day most of its inhabitants were polyglots and the city itself was officially quadrilingual. In Fiume we have a saying: “You are as worth as the number of languages you speak” (Vrijediš onoliko koliko jezika govoriš”). This is probably a localised version of a poetic Hungarian proverb (“You are as many people as the number of languages you speak”). I believe this saying really resonated with me right away and got stuck in my mind since I first heard it as an infant.
I have always been bilingual myself, but I was was not that good with foreign language learning during my school years (with the exception of French). My big love for languages really started only at university, where I took Linguistics as my major. It is thanks to wonderful professors and human beings like Alessandro Catalano, Sandra Bagno and Marina Borozdina that I started to developed a huge passion that has accompanied me since.
During these university years I added Russian, Portuguese and a decent level of Czech to my knowledge bag, and perfected my English. I then started to travel, for study and for work. I have been a resident of 11 foreign countries, and this helped me with learning German, Spanish and Venetian. I perfected my French. I am currently working on learning Chakavian, which is a slavic language spoken in Western Croatia and autochthonous to the region I was born in.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I would love to find the time and opportunity to focus on learning a couple of Eastern Asian languages, Japanese in primis, but also Chinese and Korean.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
I would like to say French, but thanmy Italian friends would get angry. ;-) Let’s be honest here… It all depends on who speaks it! Even languages considered among the roughest in the world can sound lovely and sexy if spoken the right way, by the right person!
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
On one hand the ability to truly understand other human beings and the ability to communicate right to their heart whenever I want to.
On the other hand the ability to read the world at a much deeper and much wider level. Every new language learned is extremely empowering.
As the Hungarian proverb mentioned above suggests, every new language learned makes us discover a new part of ourselves, gifts us a new persona. It’s a tremendous opportunity to expand our experience of this life and of other people.
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?
I do not think this is likely to happen. As decades pass I see ever more people speaking ever more languages.
I think new technological developments are going to make language learning access even better and way more immediate than before. I can see this already happening throughout my life so far: learning a language 20 years ago was an incredibly daunting process (hence a person speaking even one foreign language was extremely admired by society), nowadays learning a most exotic language is taken as a relatively mundane achievement, at least here in Europe.
If anything, I think new technology and transhumanism will potentially allow us to speak even more languages than before, and thus be intellectually richer than ever before.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Have fun. This is the most important thing. Be bold, but don’t push yourself for the sake of it.
Find a routine that is not heavy and stick to it. 10 minutes of learning a language per day will make you a great speaker much sooner than you think. If you ever feel doing more because you are genuinely enjoying it, do more.
Study the languages you like. Do not follow language trends. You may eventually get to learn that very useful for work language one day, but you will be much smarter and skilled if you have first learned the languages that you could learn with sincere passion. Every language you learn will make the next one easier and way more interesting to learn.
Always remember that whatever language you learn, you will keep learning it and deepening it for the rest of your life. Because every language you approach is as deep and rich as the sum of the souls of all human beings that ever used it - Limitless.