Name: Svetlana Ishacov
Nationality or Ethnicity: Romanian/Italian, of Russian/Tatar descent
Where do you live?: Italy
Languages: Russian, Romanian (native), Italian, German, English, French, Spanish (fluent), Ukrainian, Chinese (conversational)
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
Well, the first 16 years of my life I have spent in a little town called Calarasi, which is in the Republic of Moldova. The conditions of life were miserable and reserving nothing special for the young generation. Women of my country were often working in Italy, so did my mom. At the age of 16, I travelled for the first time to Italy, where I spent 1 month with my mother, thus meeting Italian culture and language. When I went home, after my summer vacation, I thought I could emigrate and spend my life somewhere else. So I started to study English harder and after a while, I have got some German private lessons for beginners. At that point, I’ve already spoken Russian, Romanian, English, and a bit of Italian.
After transferring to Italy to study Translation and Cultural Mediation I fell in love with French and Spanish and continued my “relationship” with German.
Languages gave me freedom, but they gave also me something more: they have enforced my critical thinking. Speaking with many people I understand better the differences and the similarities of our cultures. I like to read national newspapers and magazines from different countries, thus enriching my knowledge about the world. Actually, all the news I have from newspapers and from my numerous local friends around the world.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I wish I could spend more time with my Ukrainian, Polish and Chinese, especially ideograms.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Well, Chinese is the priority. After that, I would manage to study Japanese and Arabic.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
I think it’s a popular choice – French.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
I’m a booklover, I’ve always been. I like so much the feeling of freedom it gives me in choosing the literature, sources of information, and, most important, people I can communicate with. It lets me fulfill my curiosity about almost everything.
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 don’t think it’s possible…at least not so fast. 100 years it’s just a generation or two. As an example, here in Italy, a modern European country, people of the young generation besides Italian, speak dialects – different from town to town. In countries with stronger traditional forms of social organization, to introduce just one language of communication will be even harder. I believe that people will always have "official" and "non-official" language, language that any child is learning to speak at home.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, be curious, and never give up.
All the learning process is founded on these three fundamentals.