Name: Vladimir Georgiev
Nationality or Ethnicity: Bulgarian
Where do you live?: Sofia, Bulgaria
Languages: Bulgarian(native), English, German, Danish, Romanian – advanced level, Albanian, Slovak – upper intermediate level, Greek, Spanish, Serbian, Swedish, Russian, Macedonian– conversational level, Ukrainian, Slovene, Portuguese, Italian – very basic level
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
I grew up in a family, in which only Bulgarian is spoken, but I was exposed to different languages since an early age, because my grandparents were translators(my grandmother is still alive and thriving). I was sent to a local school, where English is taught since 1st grade and a second language – German – from the 5th grade. In the 8th grade I started going to a gymnasium with majors Maths, Informatics and German, and the first year was mostly dedicated to an intensive German studies. I had a really passionate teacher and not only I learned a lot, but I started getting into more languages. The first language that I started learning because my own choice was Swedish and then Danish. I also tried some short language projects like Romanian and Ukrainian, but without much success. I heard a lot of nice things about studying in Scandinavia and at the age of 19 I moved to Denmark, where I studied Computer Science and Danish language and by using actively English and Danish in my everyday life, I started noticing the benefits of speaking multiple languages, the positive effects of understanding multiple languages. I was also surrounded by many Romanians and I started doing my own research on how to study. Then I started getting involved in the polyglot community and I visited a couple of events – the polyglot events in Germany, Serbia, Greece and Slovakia. Visiting these event has definitely influenced my choice of languages to learn. At the same time I was realizing that I don’t have at all an interest in programming and after I completed my degree in Denmark, I took a gap year and I did an exchange program in Romania and at the same time I started teaching languages on the internet. During that time I made two important life choices, which made a huge difference on incorporating languages in my daily life. In autumn 2015, I took a tour guide qualification course and I got my license from the Ministry of Tourism. Next year, I started studying Balkan Studies at the University in Sofia. There I study Russian, Romanian, Greek and Albanian. I’ve also done two summer schools in Albania and Kosovo. This is how languages shaped my life story.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
That’s a difficult one. Probably Swedish, Greek, Serbian. At different times, there are different languages playing more active role in my life.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
First of all, I already have a huge list of languages, which I need to keep up with and need to be refreshed in the future. As far as new languages, it depends on my life choices and circumstances. Probably I’d visit France at some point and I’ll definitely need to learn at least basic French. If there will be in-person polyglot polyglot gathering in Poland and I’d have the financial possibility to visit it, then I’ll learn Polish. So far I’ve only studied Indo-European languages. Some more exotic languages, that might be interesting for me are: Armenian from this branch and outside of it – Finnish and Turkish, probably Chinese. But at the moment I don’t have a concrete plan and I don’t have the need or the time to take on a new language. French and Polish wouldn’t be so hard in terms of grammar and vocabulary, since I already know Romanian and Spanish and some Slavic languages, but I need to figure out how I’d deal with the pronunciation.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
Without a doubt Slovak. I really enjoy it, firstly because it’s a Slavic language with a very structured grammar and a few exceptions, but I also like the communication dynamics, the subtle irony and the emotional engagement in the conversations.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Being able to connect with people from different countries, reading the news, listening to music in different languages, the feeling of living a new life in each language. This is not only a proverb, this is a real thing.
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?
It’s very sad, but facts show and prove it. There are thousands of languages, spoken by a small number of people, not being passed on generations and no matter how hard linguists would try to collect data and try to put a stop or even reverse the process, the extinction of most languages is inevitable, since they often serve a limited purpose, within small communities and could hardly be integrated into the education system and the global market. Documenting them and retaining valuable information and knowledge from the communities is still a great work to be done. Personally, I don’t have experience or an expertise in such an activity.
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
Learning languages is one of the most meaningful activities one can do to make a difference in the world and there are no drawbacks in learning multiple languages. Anybody at any age with any prior experience is capable of learning multiple languages. When you learn more languages, more wonderful worlds of amazing people, new cultures, places and exciting things to do. Learning languages pushes you out of your comfort zone and makes you see the worlds with different eyes and get a different perspective on aspects of your culture you believed were unique. You can meet and connect with great people everywhere. Each language has easier and more challenging aspects and there isn’t such a thing as the hardest or unpronounceable language. If other people can speak it, why can’t you.
Just go for it! Learn as many languages as you wish!
Happy language learning!