Name: Tímea Varga
Nationality or Ethnicity: Hungarian
Where do you live?: in Mexico
Languages: Hungarian, Spanish, English, Turkish, Italian, Norwegian
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
English has always been part of my life; my dad taught me expressions and made me listen to English music from a very young age. Then, when I was seven, I fell in love with Mexican Spanish because of a Mexican soap opera. It was not only the language, but the whole Mexican atmosphere and I knew that in order to be able to speak with those people, I need to know Spanish. I was busier with English then, so when I was 12, I returned to this dream of meeting Mexicans in the future, I bought some Spanish books and started to teach myself the language. When I reached a higher proficiency, I had a feeling of lacking the pleasure the process of language learning gave me, so I started Turkish (I just wanted to challenge myself and learn something very different in its structure). Then, I went to live some time in Italy and in Norway, that’s why I started to learn those languages, basically from the street/local friends.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
All of them, except for Hungarian and English. I work in English now and those 7 hours a day is enough, but I feel like it’s never enough practice for the others. Spanish is the language of my soul, so I wish I could speak it all the time, while also having time to practice the other languages. Sometimes I just can’t decide which one to practice, because I want all of them.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
Since I live in Mexico, I would like to learn Nahuatl, which is a native language here. And also Portuguese and Arabic would be nice. Maybe related languages to the ones I already know, like Swedish or Kazak.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Mexican Spanish. It just means the world to me.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
It is a great physical and emotional pleasure to be able to say those words that sound foreign to others but so familiar to me. Likewise, it fills me with pleasure being able to communicate with so many people in their native language, because if you speak in English with everyone, there is just more distance between you compared to speaking to them in their own language. People just share a lot more with you if you know their language. And also, you can understand better their culture, their jokes, their way of life.
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, absolutely not. It is true that there are so many endangered languages, but also people are more conscious to preserve them. Many languages that were forbidden to talk before, are now allowed and supported again, like Basque, Kurdish or American native languages.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Enjoy the process. The process itself can give you much joy.