Interview with

Victor Lage de Araujo

Name: Victor Lage de Araujo
Nationality or Ethnicity: Brazilian, mixed ethnicity, predominantly caucasian.
Where do you live?: Currently living at Salvador City, BA state, Brazil.
Languages: Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Russian, Italian.

1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?

I  started French and English at Elementary Schools, both in a public  school and on private courses. I Started German when I was at the  University (Medicine – 1983-88), at Goethe Institute. Back then, it was  the old German Orthography. I learned Russian basics (Russian alphabet +  basic self-presentation) at about 1988. For that I used a book +  cassettes course “Русский язык для всех” “Russian Language for all” – I  bought it in a low-cost Russian subsidised bookstore.

I  learned Spanish at a later time (started in 2008) because I believe it  might grow important due to the “promise” of MERCOSUL. Brazil is still  not the Leader of South America as I had expected, but I got the taste  of it. I restarted it at 2010 when I started my efforts to certificate  my language proficiencies. Since then, I have been making a personal  effort to certificate languages on minimal B2 level (I have already  certified C2 standard in English, C1 in French and Spanish, and B2 in  German). I am still carrying efforts on the German Course at Goethe. As  of 2020, I will have finished the C2-3 level at Goethe (The course  reaches C2-4), And I intend to Certify at least C1 CEFR as soon as the  COVID-19 epidemic allows. As I needed at least C1 English certification  to start the MSc Evidence-Based Healthcare I finished (2018) at UCL  London <https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ >, that was my first C2 certification.

I  had one year of essential Italian learning, then stopped. However, I  still learn it now n then, by reading watching films on Netflix and  e-books/audiobooks from Amazon. At UCL, I became aware that they are  offering an online Dutch course, so I reached Intermediary 2 in 2018  (about B2 CEFR). This year (2020), I restarted, and I have just finished  a Medical Dutch course at C1 CEFR (I still have no certification,  though). I intend to carry out certification on, at least, Italian,  Dutch and ultimately Russian.

2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?

I try to give practical use to all my language:

I am studying a MA Translation at Open University <http://www.open.ac.uk/>,

I answer the CDC monthly parasitology cases <https://www.cdc.gov/dpdx/monthlycasestudies/2020/index.html>, and I carry on Continuous Medical Education at two Spanish Clinical Chemistry organisations, the AEFA <http://www.aefa.es/ > and SEQC. <http://seqc.es/>.  I intend to go on with a similar medical education program on Medical Dutch at <https://www.ntvg.nl/about-ntvg>.  And I love to watch movies at Netflix® movies, always switching different audio/subtitling combinations.

Russian  is the language I wish I had a better opportunity of practising, so  this year I found a helping tutor at Wyzant. We are going on A2 level  right now. I am now 55 years old, so I decided to Retire and start my  own business of Polyglot translation and Scientific writing. I do read  the occasional medical study in Italian for practice – reading comes  easy because of the similarity to other Latin languages. However, I wish  also to give some time to better know the metalinguistics.

3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?

Functional  NMR studies evidenced language learning as a potent brain activator, so  I wish I can keep learning all my life. I would be glad to acquire any  further language. In particular, Scandinavian languages such as Danish  and Norwegian tongues appeal to me. And Baltic languages – Some  enterprises that offer Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) are Czech, so  that might be a strategic language to learn. Perhaps Chinese and/or  Japanese when I get retired, in about four to five years.

4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?

I have no doubt about that: it is Russian!

Since  having read the book: "A Clockwork Orange" (Anthony Burgess), I marvel  about Russian Language's sounds. Some literature I studied later, such  as some Russian Science Fiction pieces, thrilled me. I found the Baltic  writing stimulating: "The unbearable lightness of being"; by Milan  Kundera (Czech author of a book that was turned into a classical motion  picture); "Die Verwandlung" (The Metamorphosis, by Czech author Franz  Kafka); "Solaris" and The Incredible Congress of Futurology" (By the  Polish Stanislaw Lem); and watching Tarkovsky's motion pictures  “Solaris” and “Stalker”. I am absolutely fascinated by the Baltic  languages. Besides, people say the Russians are the most beautiful  Baltic women.

German  would be a remarkable second place, though. Few poetic texts go beyond  the beauty of some German books such as Goethe’s “Symbolum”. By its very  precision, and the ways it can be handled by a thorough poet or  linguist, any love message can be enhanced in German.

… «Я люблю тебя» and “Ich liebe Dich” give two classic lines!

Japanese Haikus – like Basho’s do have some charm, too.

5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?

Learning  a new language is like visiting a foreign land: During the first day,  one selects a standing hallmark, and goes there at dawn, just to watch  what happens. At first, everything is dark. As the first beams of  sunlight appear, the landscape gradually unveils itself. A new day  awakens; the birds chirrup; and eventually, it is the time where the sun  is at its apex. Only by learning a language can you indeed visit its  people's countries, speak and hear their culture, and commune to the  people.

Being  multilingual means adding extra colours to a rainbow. Learning a new  language is lively, young, playful and happy! After learning, it's time  to add new colours to the case: now it's possible to reshape life.

By  exercising thought in new languages, you realise that some feelings and  poetry are simply impossible in other words. This is opposite of what  Eric Blair (AKA George Well) proposed with his Newspeak (in the book  1984), where the censorship of given words would eventually render  impossible the merest thoughts against the Regime. By learning new  languages, one enhances one's thought processes and strains multiple  regions of the brain. Language learning is a potent stimulus for  neuroplasticity. It improves not only the neurons directly involved in  its operations but can possibly even be used as a mean to prevent most  Dementias.

Do you need any other reason?

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  do not honestly believe that. Language has two significant impacts on  cultures: it works both as a uniting force (of those who speak each  language) and a divider (among mutually non-speaker peoples). This is a  significant point in human psychology. Also, Language, Music and  Literature are important cultural manifestations, and they are strongly  influenced by language.

7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?

Be  bold. Never flinch or fear that learning any new language is too much  of a time spending. Never think there is such a thing as a someone with a  "privileged brain" that can quickly learn thousands of languages. Never  imagine the full learning of a language is an easy task, though.  Learning a new language requires both planning and dedication. Whoever  has an "average" brain (I exclude, PERHAPS, just those who have organic  mental illnesses), you can learn as many languages as you dedicate  yourself to.

From the “motto” of Star Trek: “To boldly go, where no man has gone before!"

The International Association of Hyperpolyglots - HYPIA. (c) 2020

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