Hyperpolyglot & HYPIA Scholar
Name: Nahuel Sebastián Vento
Nationality or Ethnicity: Argentinian
Where do you live?: Buenos Aires
Languages: Spanish (native), English and Greek (fluent), Italian (intermediate), Arabic and German (lower-intermediate), Turkish and Hebrew (basic).
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I feel that I opened my passion a long time ago: my case is a common case, a case where the inspiration that derives from language learning has come with me all along these years. My strength is focused on the aspects that are related to the grammar or syntax of the languages I learn. It all began with English, at a humble English institute where I learnt the basics of the language. This would be the proof of my love for languages given that I am a translator of English and Spanish. I am stirred when I study languages. I feel something deep inside, stirring, like a wave in the ocean. With the other languages I found a pleasure unique of its kind when I went to the library of my school and I learnt languages on my own. I was the very nerdie guy who used to open every book that was in the library of my school and which could allow me to study a foreign language. I always was aloof and abstracted with my books. It was my passion to bring together the knowledge of different topics.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
This is one subject which sometimes makes me think that being a polyglot complies with the Argentinian saying that goes “Quien mucho abarca poco aprieta” (roughly translatable as ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’). I have less practice in German and Hebrew given that I have just started learning Hebrew on my own. English is almost a daily language for me. I read English almost on a daily basis since I adopted the language as a kid.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Japanese is one of the languages that would be in my horizon, just like Turkish or Chinese. I hope that the countries do not evolve their languages commercially too fast so that I can catch up with them.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
The sexiest language, in my humble opinion, is the language that makes you marvel at the pronounciation together with the style of composition. In my opinion, I find Greek pronounciation very sexy. But in the end all of the languages are sexy if one is able to live with pleasure its cadence and rhythm. Well used, the language can give you an infinite source of interest and charm. Although it is hardly everything there is, one can affirm that learning a language is a question of liking and taste. A language makes your mind crack like a nut every time you encounter something new.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Although many people find pleasure in socializing and making friends (these are some of the advantages of learning a foreign language) with the central aim of building their language, I personally find pleasure in studying the context of the languages per se, be it the grammar or the style of each language. I can speak many languages and I guess it is the case of so many youngsters but I personally strive to get a good comprehension of the language which I speak. I personally feel that learning a language gives you a distinct pleasure of feeling the adrenaline each time you open a book. Once a person doesn’t know you, you can ask him or her to guess in which language you will be speaking.
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?
The world has existed for a long time with languages as a social cohesive important factor. It is quite a preposterous idea that languages are bound to disappear. There are languages which die and leave their imprint on the world over which they have ruled but this doesn’t mean all the languages will disappear. Life is too strong to be held between limits. The tongues of people need to move and speak. Speaking comes to represent the outpouring and output of thousands of people. In my opinion, it is rather illogical for languages to fade out given that they are always actualizing and updating with loanwords and similar items. IT can be supposed that languages are to lengthen their existence.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
It is really difficult to advise or give one’s piece of advice to those who are learning languages. I think in those elderly people who are there trying to improve their memory issues and I cannot but feel proud of my efforts and my attempts at learning so many languages, together with my colleagues of HYPIA. My experience is one of great fruitful encounters with different languages. Language learning may not be for everyone but it is a weapon of equality and freedom. People who learn languages are better positioned in life, with a different outlook of life. People who learn different languages get to understand the brains of thousands of people speaking a language. People learning different languages hit it off and go on well with each other. People who learn different languages cannot be warned of anything. Everything is a discovery and an attempt at self-knowledge.
Nahuel is also a HYPIA Scholar. Below is an excerpt from his Scholar interview.
1. HYPIA Research revolves around three main, interrelated activities: a monthly study group (to discuss relevant articles/chapters and videos), an annual conference (to present your own ideas about them) and the publication of selected proceedings from that conference. Ideally, we would be interested in accepting applicants that are able and willing to participate in all 3. On a scale from 1 (most likely) to 10 (less likely), how likely are you commit to this endeavor?
3 (close to most likely).
2. What are your main areas of research interest? Please, rank the following from 1 (most interesting to you) to 5 (less interesting).
(5) Language ideologies
(1) Formal linguistics
(4) Minoritized languages and/or language revitalization
3. Which three linguistic concepts do you wish you could spend more time discussing as part of HYPIA Research?
Pro-drop language characteristic, complementation in syntactic analysis, quasi-passive.
4. What is unique about your language-related research?
I am a translator of English and Spanish. I have preferred literature over scientific research. Later on I combined the science of literature with translation activity.
5. Please, let us know your related academic credentials, if any.
Legal language translator (USAL - Universidad del Salvador). Major in Contrastive Linguistics.