Name: Romain Fayolle
Nationality or Ethnicity: French
Where do you live?: I am native from the sparkling city of Epernay (France). After having lived
in Torino (Italy) and Prague (Czech Republic), I am now based in Berlin (Germany).
Languages: French (Native); English, Italian and Spanish (Fluent); German, Czech and
Portuguese (Conversant); Russian and Arabic MSA (Basic, learning)
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
My background with languages is the testimony of how human life can take multiple paths. I obviously learnt my mother tongue, French, thanks to my family environment and school. I have been introduced to English in Elementary school. I got the choice between English and German entering Middle school, I skipped German because of young « stupid » reasons (my family fought during wars against Germans and I was thinking it was not sounding beautifully). This is why I selected two years later Italian as 2nd foreign language (the only 3rd option in the school). My aunt, professor of Spanish, was not happy about it and she preferred me to change school.
However I stayed and promised to study Spanish as soon as possible. I kept my word and got in touch with Spanish in high school as 3rd foreign language. Till the end of university, I consolidated those languages as well as a sense of attraction towards other people and their culture. This is now driving my life...
For my master thesis, I went to Germany to consolidate my « europeanity ». I then got my first job in Czech Republic where I learnt Czech and went back to Germany for another position where I consolidated my German. I jumped into Portuguese during a winter travel across South America, I spent few weeks in Brazil where I studied this language. I am now motivated to expand my linguistic skills to other world cultures. I recently began with
Russian and Arabic (MSA) hoping they are just a step towards other languages.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
A language is dynamic. It is as simple to forget one as hard to learn a new one. I wish I could spend more time practising Czech. It is very difficult because I do not use it for professional purpose anymore and I have very few Czech friends or connection compared to other languages.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I really focus on Russian and MSA right now. I still regard them as a future project as I have not yet reach the fluency level I am targeting. However, I think I will head after to Polish, Swedish, Chinese (mandarin), Romanian and/or Vietnamese.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
A language? An accent! And this accent is French. Any language with French accent sounds beautiful, cute and... sexy! (If you hear my accent, it is on purpose :) ).
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
People. My pleasure is not speaking languages but I treasure meeting new people and discovering their cultures. Languages are just tools. With this philosophy, I always quote Nelson Mandela:
« If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. »
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?
This is a very political question. The outcome will only be political and we all have a voice here. I observe the world is moving towards multiple political powers and I think we will have few international languages. 10? 15? I think we will have about 20 of them within the next 100 years. However, I observe that after a period of globalisation, people tend to come back to their roots and are proud of their local language(s) and/or dialect(s). So proud they progressively advocate for them and I think it will be a stronger movement.
Nevertheless, a language is a dynamic concept and it has been shown one needs a minimum numbers of speakers to survive. For sure, a lot of them are disappearing and will disappear. Is it good? Is it bad? Open topic of discussion.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Do what you want to do! You want to learn a new language? Great! Learn it. Use it. Embrace it. Connect with people and take every piece of knowledge, experience and wisdom out of them. Live another life through this new language. You will see the world in another way.