Name: Patrick Freby
Nationality or Ethnicity: French & Portuguese
Where do you live?: Marseille, France
Languages: French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Arabic
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
As a Frenchman born in the Paris area, I was born and raised in a multicultural and multilingual environment where all my family members are overall a mix of many cultures. My mother was Portuguese but from Argentinian Brazilian, and Mozambican heritage on the one hand. And, on the other hand, my father’s parents were French, English, and Jewish Pole. I believe this is one of the reasons that made me want to “encourage” my international mix personality in my daily life. Also, I must admit that this international environment fostered my willingness to always learn about other cultures and people and consequently study their languages whenever possible. As a result, I have always sought those crossbreeding-métissage relationships even in my relationships (friends, partners, etc). Furthermore, most of my family members are engaged or married with persons from other countries or cultures which naturally helps grow this intimate relationship with foreign languages. To make a long story short, I believe this context naturally led me to be open to a variety of people, more cultures, to always be closer to foreign environments in the overall. I must add that apart from French, I am practically self-taught for most of the languages that I speak even for Portuguese and Spanish, which I have learned by listening amongst my relatives. For me, not speaking languages is a mistake or even an impoverishment.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I would love to improve my level of Russian and Arabic. As a matter of fact, it is a true dream of mine to indeed become perfectly bilingual in Arabic as I believe this language is magic and poetic. From time to time, I even say that Arabic is a “superior” language because I see this language in term of grammar for instance, as a “gathering” of many other languages’ grammatical material-concepts.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Soon, I hope I can study Chinese, German but Hebrew. The reason for wanting to study Hebrew for me is important too because, my grandmother was Jewish, and I have always been fascinated by this language and would be keen to know more about Hebraic culture too. This is indeed a big part of my culture too.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
In my view, the sexiest language is not French, or Brazilian Portuguese nor Italian, it is Arabic spoken in Lebanon. I believe it is very romantic, poetic, and refined. It sounds genuinely nice to the ear ;)
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Languages mean passion to me. It is the best existing manner to feel others, to share with others, to thoroughly understand, comprehend other cultures, usages, and habits. Languages are the nicest and the best vehicle to convey your thoughts, emotions and feelings. Languages help develop your curiosity, creativity and put your mind and soul at a higher level of human experience if I may say.
I have always felt that I would have been a sad and “poor” person if I were not a cultural mix myself in the end. I truly do not imagine myself being a 100% native of one country-culture only. It just does not make sense to my mind just trying to imagine it.
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?
Generally speaking, I am a true believer in communications. I believe languages are by essence the DNA of cultures and people differences and human wealth. Languages are the best vector to open a window towards others in order to better understand their feelings in depth.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Based on my experience and conviction, and especially in the current international context that we live in, it has begun instrumental for our personal and professional development and grow to be able to communication in various languages.
As a conclusion, I must say that practicing and learning languages has always been a real passion for me. Some people love football; my passion are languages. It is like a second skin for me, a second nature. When I speak languages, I feel like myself. I mean, it becomes instinctive and natural.