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Interview with

Matteo Paone

Name: Matteo D. Paone
Nationality or Ethnicity: Italian
Where do you live?: Vienna, Austria
Languages: Italian, English, German, French, Russian, Dutch, Spanish, Italian Sign Language (LIS)

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

As far as I can remember, I have been always interested in languages since I was a child. I must confess I was not that brilliant in maths or in any scientific subject and I wished I could have more foreign languages at school instead of maths, physics and chemistry. But unluckily I got only English in elementary school from the third year so I decided to teach myself French. From that moment on, I never stopped learning and added one language after the other. I started dreaming of becoming an interpreter and I chased that dream so much that I have made of my passion my current job. I have been trained as a translator and conference interpreter in German, Russian, Dutch and French. For business reason I also use English on a daily basis and after spending some time travelling all around Europe, I finally made of Vienna the place I call home, at least for now.

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

It’s difficult to answer this question because I try to practice at least once a week every language I know, but I would definitely like to have more time to spend on Dutch, French and Russian.

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

I would like to get both a passive and an active proficiency in Romanian. I have studied this language for almost two years and though I can understand it quite well, I do not feel comfortable yet in speaking it. I have also been reading up a lot about inclusion and communication with deaf people, so I picked LIS (Italian Sign Language) almost one year ago and living in Austria I am going to start learning the Austrian Sign Language too. On my to do list there is still Finnish (I tried several time but always gave up because of so many cases!) Swedish, Polish, Hungarian, Croatian, Swahili and Maltese

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

I am Italian, should I add something? ;-)

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

The fact that no matter where I am, I always find a way to communicate with other people. I also enjoy a lot eavesdropping conversations of strangers and picking as much as possible of their meaning. Plus, it’s incredibly cool to switch from one language to the other within minutes on a daily basis, so I love ordering my coffee at the local café in German, while texting my friend in Italian and listening to a Dutch podcast. This keeps my brain active and makes me smile every time.

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?

Hopefully not. I know that a lot of minor or indigenous languages are going to disappear, but we are still on time! Let’s find curious people like me that are willing to learn those languages and let’s keep them all alive! That would be a pity if they disappear and a huge part of the world’s culture would be gone too. I could not imagine a world where we all speak the same language quite frankly. That would be so boring!

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

Go for it! As I said, it keeps your brain active and it is never too late to start learning something new! Enjoy it, do it the way it better suits you, learn a new language by travelling, explore not only the language but also the culture of the people speaking that language, be open minded, do not worry if you make mistakes and keep practicing!