The International Association
Name: Roman Zubov
Nationality or Ethnicity: Uzbek/Russian/French
Where do you live?: Santiago de Chile
Languages: Russian and French (native), English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German and Uzbek (fluent), Turkish, Japanese, Hindi, Nepali, Polish
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I started learning languages, when I was 5. Soon I discovered, that I had a photographic memory and could quickly memorize words, verses and poems and also imitate various accents. I was always the best in languages at secondary school and participated at various linguistic Olympiads and language competitions between various schools. I used my deep knowledge of French language to integrate myself deeply into the French society, fall in love with the country and finally to have the honour to receive my French citizenship. I worked with various companies in Germany, Austria, Russia, Portugal, Argentina, Mexico, Panama, Chile, Costa Rica and Brazil thanks to the knowledge of languages of these countries, which I speak fluently. I was hired to my dream position in a French company, thanks to the language knowledge and special motivation. The clients of the company I was working for mainly didn’t speak any English and it was vital to speak their native language to make business with them. They often appreciated me speaking their language during the meetings and invited me to restaurant to get to know me better. They were curious to learn my story. Knowing Russian allowed me to triple the business turnover in this country within 3 years, whereas my only English-speaking colleagues, who attended this market before me during 10 years, didn’t increase the sales at all. I used my Spanish language knowledge to open a business in South America in Chile and to move from France to Chile, changing continents and becoming an expatriate. Once again, being a polyglot and speaking the language fluently, allowed me to integrate quickly into Chilean society, learn deeply the Chilean traditions, and connect with people locally way faster, than if I only spoke English. I quickly learned local Chilean slang and it allowed me be considered as a local by many people
I was able to make new amazing friends in India, Nepal and Japan, by speaking these languages a little bit with the natives. I was delighted and too happy to see peoples’ reactions, when they saw me speaking, being a complete foreigner and visiting their countries for the first time. I had the feeling of euphoria and joy, when the owners of small hotels, where I stayed in Tuscany reacted quite happily to me speaking Italian to them. My mother, who travelled with me, couldn’t believe I only needed 6 months to speak it rather fluently, neither did Brazilians on a tour of the biggest hydro-electrical station in Foz de Iguazu in Portuguese language. They thought I was born in Portugal and even didn’t believe me, when I said them I was French. That was quite amazing fun. Learning languages is a soul-changing experience to me, I dedicate time to that every single day, it opened my mind to so many new cultures, mindsets and ways of being in an amazing way. I truly became the citizen of the world. Learning new languages has become an everyday ritual for me, like a morning gymnastics routine with push-ups, something, that I hold to so dear in my heart and will never stop doing...
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
Chinese, Japanese, Uzbek, Hindi and Nepali.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Vietnamese, Slovenian, Arab, Cantonese, Hungarian, Estonian.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
French, by far.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Feeling like I’m a native of these countries, connecting deeply to people and to their traditions, ways of life, learning the best from them and being a part of their community.
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?
No, never. All the languages will keep existing, as they are right now or they (Deep State) will have to annihilate some countries. People have to keep their national identity, accent, dialect and mindset. You cannot replace it by Esperanto or English or any other universal language. People will never stick to it.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Go for it. Spend more time learning languages. It’s an absolutely amazing journey, totally worth every second, that you spend on it. You’ll get richer and broader from the inside, will have a larger perspective on the world and a have a multinational personality.