The International Association
Hyperpolyglot & HYPIA Scholar
Name: Olga Koeva
Nationality or Ethnicity: Bulgarian / German
Where do you live?: Regensburg, Germany
Languages: Bulgarian (mother tongue), Russian (mother tongue), English (C1), German (C2, certificate DSH 3 available), French (C1, certificate Unicert C1 available), Spanish (C1, certificate Unicert available), Italian (B2, certificate Unicert B2 available), Portuguese: B2 (certificate Unicert B2 available), Dutch (B2, certificate CNAVT Prof available), Norwegian (B2, certificate Norskprøve B2 available), Swedish (C1, certificate available), Danish (B2), Czech (B2, certificate Unicert B2 available).
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I started studying foreign languages at school. Because this was a music school and there was no emphasis on languages, I decided to study them with private teachers. While attending school, I learned English, German and French with private teachers. When I came to Grermany in order to study, I learned the following languages by myself: Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Italian. I decided to learn Spanish with a private teacher because it seemed difficult to me. When I started studying International Relations and Management, I was studying Portuguese and Czech during the first three semesters. Now, I am improving my Portuguese and Czech. Next year, I would like to attend a Czech course in order to obtain the certificate called UNICERT B2. My purpose is in general to have B2 or C1 in all the languages in which I do not have any certificate yet (Swedish, Danish, Portuguese and Italian). However, I do not know when I will obtain these certificates in Italian, Danish and Portuguese. I will give it a try and take the C1 exam in Swedish next year and I hope that I will pass it.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I wish I had more time and opportunities to practice Danish and Italian. Unfortunately, I have not so many friends from these countries so I hope that it will change in the future. Of course, I read in these languages but oral communication is also essential to me.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Firstly, I would like to learn Japanese. It is an important language nowadays because Japan is one of the largest economies in the world. I like the melody of the Chinese language as well and I think that learning a tonal language would be an interesting experience to me as a musician. Furthermore, I would like to learn Turkish because it is also very melodic and laconic as well. In Bulgarian, we have many Turkish words and it is impressive how one single word can express as much as a whole sentence can express in Russian and Bulgarian. Due to this phenomenon, Turkish would be worth learning. Moreover, I would like to complete the North Germanic language group by learning Icelandic and maybe Faroese. Finally, it would be interesting to learn Greek, Finnish and Hungarian due to their melody, unique grammar and vocabulary which are not similar to any other languages.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
It is a difficult question because I have no favourite language. All the languages I speak (and do not speak yet) are nice, melodic, beautiful in their own manner and I cannot define which is the most beautiful, the sexiest or my favourite one. All the languages can thus be sexy.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
The greatest pleasure that I get from speaking multiple languages is that I can gain deep insight in many cultures and different mentalities of many countries. When I communicate in so many languages with people from the countries where these languages are spoken, I learn much about the culture and traditions of certain countries which I am really interested in. Furthermore, speaking so many languages gives me access to much literature that I can read in the original language. I feel differently when reading in the original language than it is the case with translated literature. Reading in the original language, I can perceive the message of the author just the way the author has encoded it without additional interpretation of a translator.
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 think that it is not true. Every culture and every country does its best to protect and to maintain its own language which is a part of that culture. I do not think that languages will disappear in 100 years. People will always speak and maintain multiple languages.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
I would like to encourage both young and not so young people intersted in languages to constantly practice languages. This could be done in different manners. The most effective methods in my opinion are reading, communication (both written and oral) and listening. This would give people the opportunity to improve their fluency, to maintain their level and to enhance their vocabulary. And a last thing: never loose your motivation to study languages. Think how advantageous they are and always improve them. Even if a language seems difficult to you, you will learn it by working hard and by being motivated!
Olga Koeva is also a HYPIA Scholar. Below is an excerpt of her 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?
Monthly research group: 1; Annual conference: 1; Publications: 1.
2. What are your main areas of research interest? Please, rank the following from 1 (most interesting to you) to 5 (less interesting).
() Multilingualism 1
() Language ideologies 1
() Formal linguistics 2
() Sociolinguistics 1
() Minoritized languages and/or language revitalization 1
() Other, please specify:
3. Which linguistic concepts / areas / discourses would you like to explore as part of HYPIA Research?
Multilingualism, sociolinguistics, language ideologies.
4. What is unique about your language-related research?
Even if I am not a linguist I am interested in linguistic subjects. During my internship at the institution Fachstelle Interkulturelle Öffnung in Jena, Germany ( www.fs-ikoe.de ), I contributed to the development of a website called www.wir-sind-vielsprachig.de (we are multilingual). The purpose of this website is to create awareness of multilingualism and to avoid linguistic discrimination in our society. During the development of this resource, I gained some knowledge about linguistic concepts such as multilingualism and language ideologies. Participating in the HYPIA research project, I would like to gain a much deeper insight into these and other fields of investigation.
5. Please, let us know your related academic credentials, if and as applicable.
I'm graduated in International Relations and Management and I'm currently studying a master's degree of management of intercultural studies at the same university.