Name: Patrick Khoury
Nationality or Ethnicity: Lebanese
Where do you live?: Lebanon
Languages: Arabic (Lebanese) and Standard Arabic, French, English, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Greek, Romanian, Dutch, Serbian.
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I have always had a big curiosity when it comes to foreign accents and I always wanted to know what people around me were talking about when we used to travel outside of Lebanon my family and I. I’d always drop an ear on foreigners when speaking a foreign language, and I’d always try to soak in everything in my mind and be attentive to the weird sounds produced, even though I wasn’t understanding a thing, yet I was fascinated by the mechanics of language. This lead my curiosity to grow over time as well as my motivation and deep passion for language learning. This was the first and most essential trigger that got me into the realm of languages.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I’d say Greek and Swedish.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I’d like to learn Hungarian and Mandarin Chinese in the very near future, and one or two minority/endangered languages with the course of time.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Come on we all know it, it’s Swedish! Haha
I also find Arabic quite sexy, not because it’s my native tongue but because I impartially find it super soothing to the ear.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
The pleasure of learning new words, new ways of pronouncing words or producing sounds. All in all, languages have helped boost my self-confidence, enabled me to have amazing travel experiences through meeting super interesting people from all over the world, and most importantly, languages have made me more humble towards myself and others, in the face of all the overwhelming diversity in this magical place we live in called Earth.
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 believe that if people got inspired to learn other languages other than English the lingua franca, then languages cannot go extinct or die out eventually. Since a language is carried by us humans, we are the ones responsible for the preservation of languages and cultures as well as its sustainability over time, be it a 100 years from now or a thousand. It all boils down to our readiness and willingness to take on new languages in our lives and transmitting them to our successors.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Do not treat language learning like any other scholastic material such as Math, physics, or geography. Instead, treat it as a living thing, something that you ought to nurture and water a bit every day. With that being said, try doing anything you like with the language every single day, whether listening to a podcast, writing down some things, doing a monologue, anything really! Languages learning ought to be fun, and should never be taken very seriously. When you’re not enjoying or having fun anymore, stop and take a step back, then get back at it at a later stage. Do not over complicate it, your degree of fluency in a language is a direct reflexion of how much time you have put to it and how much you allowed the language to invade your space and to be integrated into your life.
At the end, always remember to enjoy, enjoy, and enjoy!!