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Interview with

Victor Lage de Araujo

Hyperpolyglot & HYPIA Scholar

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. Learning: Polish, Ukrainian and Belarusian.

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

Science is my First Love, and Language is my current Romance.

I started French and English in Elementary Schools, both in a public school and on private courses. I Started German at Goethe Institute when I was at the University (Medicine – 1983-88) Back then, it was the old German Orthography. Likewise, I learned Russian basics (Russian alphabet + basic self-presentation) in 1988/89. For that, I used a book + K7tapes ([“Русский язык для всех”, “Russian Language for all”)–I bought in a low-cost Russian-subsidised bookshop. Since 2020, I have been exploring that fascinating Language with an Autonomous linguist teacher. I intend to go for Russian TORFL soon.

I later started learning Spanish (2008) because I believed 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 and still go on with Laboratory medical Spanish training in specialised Spanish AEFA and SEQC Laboratory Personnel Organisations, as I believe in continuous education. I restarted it in 2010 and currently restarting my efforts to certificate Spanish beyond C2 CEFR certification. Since then, I have been making a personal effort to certificate languages on a minimal B2 CEFR level. I have already certified C2 standard in English, C1 in French (Going on Education at the Alliance Française au Brésil) and Spanish (going on education at Cervantes Institute), I am still carrying efforts on the German Course at Goethe-Institut and waiting for their return to international activities to try C1 CEFR certification. As of 2020, I have finished the C2-3 level at Goethe, then carried on two semesters of special C2 Medical Sciences courses (Though the official course stops at the C2-4 level), as I acknowledge that for Portuguese-speaking citizens, that is a complex language. And I intend to upgrade my certification from B2 to at least C1 CEFR as soon as the COVID-19 epidemic allows their return to activity. As I needed at least C1 English certification to start the M.Sc. 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 and then by reading, watching films on Netflix and listening to e-books/audiobooks from Amazon. At UCL, I became aware that they were offering an online Dutch course, so I reached Intermediary 2 in 2018  (about B2 CEFR). On 2020, I restarted, and I have just finished a Medical Dutch course at C1 CEFR (I still have no CEFR certification, though).

In 2021, while the COVID-19 pandemics started, I decided to carry out Slavic Language education because I understand Those are heavily underestimated languages in occidental countries. I am currently in my second year of Polish, Ukrainian and Russian Languages at Clube Eslavo (Slavic Club - Brazil), and also learning Russian through Music (Instituto Rússia Brazil, Russian Institute-BR) and Belarus – the last one with a Russian-Belarus autonomous Russian Teacher. I intend to carry out certification in at least Russian, Italian,  & Dutch.

It is my hope to go to Eastern Europe, talk to the people and visit some ancient temples as I have a personal passion for Pagan Religions and ancient territories (The top of that was my brief visit to Stonehenge in London). I must state I am utterly against violence and war and see all people as Brethren.

My biggest dream is to visit the real tomb of the Mythic Vlad Tepes (Vlad III)–if it exists at all.


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

I try to give practical use to all my languages.

I am studying for a MA in 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 regularly read Medical Dutch studies at <https://www.ntvg.nl/about-ntvg>.  And I love to watch movies at Netflix® movies (always switching different audio/subtitling combinations), and do Karaoke on Spotify as playful means of learning

Beyond Slavic, I wish to study Scandinavian Languages in the future. At 55 years old, so I decided to retire and start my own business of Polyglot translation and Scientific writing. I do still read the medical studies for practice in all Languages I manage to understand.

As a personal project, I wish to give some attention to better understanding of metalinguistics and perhaps translate some ancient forgotten German or Slavic literatures.


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

Functional NMR studies reveal language learning is a potent brain activator, so I wish I could keep learning all my life! Also, psychological studies evidence the more language as you learn, the easier it gets – and then again, multilingual people have an enhanced ability of empathy and grasping world phenomena. I would be glad to acquire any further language. In particular, Scandinavian languages appeal to me. As for Baltic languages, – some enterprises that offer Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) software are Czech and Russian, and the KLTC translation Congress is a classic. Therefore, those might be strategic languages to learn. Perhaps Chinese and Japanese eventually, because I enjoy the Chinese Classics and am fond of Zen- (Chan-) Buddhism.


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 at Russian Language's sounds. Some literature I studied later, such as some Russian Science Fiction pieces "Solaris" and "The Incredible Congress of Futurology" (Stanislaw Lem), are outstanding. I found some Baltic writings 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, written in Classic. German) "Quo Vadis?" (Henryk Sienkiewicz); and now I am diving into fascinating ancient Belarus tales for kids. Watch Tarkovsky's motion pictures “Solaris” and “Stalker”!

I am absolutely fascinated by all Baltic languages. Besides, people say the Russians are the most beautiful women in the world (I could not disagree with that).

German would be a remarkable second place, though. Few poetic texts go beyond the beauty of some German classics, 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 most convincing lines, and I am an incurable romantic!

Japanese Haiku – like Basso’s do, have their 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 chirp, and eventually, it is the time when 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 with 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 realize that some feelings and poetry are simply impossible in different wording. Quite the opposite of what Eric Blair (AKA George Well) proposed with his Newspeak (in his 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 even be used as a means to prevent most Dementia (studies point to at least four to five years' advantage).

Do you need any other reason? Well, it also happens to result in higher Emotional Intelligence.


6. Some people say the world is really just going to have a few languages left in 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. The world might become significantly culture-poorer whenever any Language dies.


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 time spent. Never think there is such a thing as someone with a "privileged brain" that can quickly learn thousands of languages (and you are unable to). 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!"


Victor is also an HYPIA Scholar. Below is an excerpt from his Scholar interview:


1. HYPIA Research revolves around three main, interrelated activities: a monthly study group (to discuss relevant articles/chapters and videos), an annual conference (to present your own ideas about them) and the publication of selected proceedings from that conference. Ideally, we would be interested in accepting applicants that are able and willing to participate in all 3. On a scale from 1 (most likely) to 10 (less likely), how likely are you to commit to this endeavour?

R. About 8/10


2. What are your main areas of research interest? Please rank the following from 1 (most interesting to you) to 5 (less interesting). *

( 3 ) Multilingualism

( 5 ) Language ideologies

( 2 ) Formal linguistics

( 3 ) Sociolinguistics

( 4 ) Minoritized languages and/or language revitalization

( 1 ) Other, please specify: Language Learning, Psychology & Neurolinguistics

* Excluding: international politics and conflict such as left & right dual conflict, partialism and bias, aggressivity & war-like efforts, political statements, sex/gender-related issues, religion-related issues, or likewise sensitive content.

* I am interested in Criminology, Psychology, Health issues, Education issues, Ecology issues, and questions about social inclusion in modern societies. I have recently come aware through reading that human emotions and Languages are intrinsically related to the handling of world phenomena. However, I am not comfortable discussing all those at a research level.

* I generally prefer researching any question that can be explained by evidence. Includes psychological testing, statistical computation, creation/use of semi-objectives scores, etc. Includes all kinds of studies from Observational Review or Secondary Research.

* While I recognise the individual’s freedom to discuss issues such as spiritualism, religiosity, philosophy, polemic issues such as astrology, homoeopathy, Anthroposophy, etc. I do not feel comfortable discussing those as science.


3. Which linguistic concepts/areas/discourses would you like to explore as part of HYPIA Research?

I try to keep a record of available studies on psychology, neurology, neuropsychology, and neuroplasticity as related to multilingualism. I am a physician and enjoy all medical-related aspects of Languages. Furthermore, I am not a psychologist, but I study psychology and enjoy understanding Human and Criminality issues. I am also a Translator and enjoy learning about Linguistics per se, such as comparing Linguistics & Metalinguistics, Issues in translation, Terminology, Etymology, Translation techniques and Technologies, etc. I have limited experience and knowledge about teaching, but I am also interested in that art/science.


4. What is unique about your language-related research?­­­

I have never published active research on Languages. However, I have a personal collection of studies involving Language Learning and Neuroplasticity, psychology of learning and related. I am proposing myself as a specialised Medical Translation and studying Translation at the MA level. I enjoy learning and understanding new Languages, including learning L3 through L2 (such as learning German/Dutch in English, Studying Medicine in Spanish, Learning Belarus through Russian, etc.). I have some personal experience in self-improvement through Language-learning. Likewise, I believe it is important to connect language experiences with other areas of knowledge and keep giving practice utility to it. I have come across several examples of Language/Culture science differences and specificity. Challenge me with Anything about Language. You will have a new enthusiast.


5.  Please let us know your related academic credentials, if and as applicable.

Briefly: Physician, Clinical Pathologist (associated: CAP, SEQC/ML, AEFA/ES; Clinical Chemistry, Haematology, Infection Control); Evidence-Based Medicine, M.Sc.; Ongoing MA Translation. Language credentials: CAE/CPE (C2 level), French and Spanish: C1, German: B2 certified, Finished C2 + German Translation Course + C2-4+ Medical German at GOETHE Institute­­­­­­­. Dutch: C1 English Dutch Course, pending CEFR certification. Currently, learning Slavic Languages. And one year of Italian at a local school. Translator, associated at: ProZ.com. ITI, APTRAD, Translation Town, Translator’s Café. Publons Academy, Peer-Review certificated; Member of ResearchGate/ORCID; Mendeley advisor.