The International Association of Hyperpolyglots - HYPIA. (c) 2019

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Interview with

Nevin Henriquez

Name: Nevin Lorenso Antonio Henriquez
Nationality or Ethnicity: Dutch Native, born on Aruba
Where do you live?: The Netherlands, Arnhem
Languages: Papiamento, Dutch, English, Spanish, German, Portuguese

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

When Well, I had the luck to be born on the beautiful island of Aruba, where they not only speak the native language Papiamento, but also go through in school in Dutch, have almost all their mediums of communication in English and Spanish and boast a paradise for tourists of all walks of life.

Papiamento, my native language, is an amazing mixture of different sounds, grammar and words which come together like something you haven’t heard before, although still sounding somewhat familiar so Spanish or Portuguese.

I lived and studied 22 Years on the Island of Aruba before moving to the Netherlands in 2016 to go to Business University. As soon as I arrived in Holland, I was quickly faced with the tough challenge of mastering Dutch in both speech and written form. Especially in the Dutch culture, speaking fluently and correctly is very important to fully integrate into the community. And if I wanted a fighting chance against all my university courses, I needed an excellent command of Hulandes, as we call Dutch in Papiamento. In the 3 years prior to my move to Holland, I worked as a Tour guide and Host for a small hotel and snorkeling business. I had the the time of my life during this period and discovered my true passion for communicating in various languages and meeting tons of new people from all over the world. Let’s just say I learned a joke or too and kept improving my communication skills with the guests. I also developed the aptitude to function in a position of leadership and figured out I have a gift for speaking, one on one and to bigger groups. Most of the tourist we had visiting where American, European or from Latin America.

Now let’s go back, to the Netherlands where I took the decision to study German, as my extra language for my 4-year course. Little did I know I was embarking on an amazing learning Journey. Something about this language appealed to me so much. Especially the fact that the German’s where always on the brink of new inventions and amazing engineering feats. So, after 2 years of lots of insecurity with the sounds and learning. A-LOT of vocabulary,

 

I was half German. I travelled throughout Germany’s cities to finish fine-tuning my ability to dominate the language and took the time to meet the locals and soak op some Deutsche culture.In between my studies I planned various trips to get to know Europe and chose to visit Portugal in March of 2018 for a whole month to do a proper road trip. This one month brought me so much insight into the language that I started reading books, and learning vocabulary. Papiamento sounds amazingly like Portuguese in every sense but is still spoken with a very different intonation and pronunciation. Learning these languages has opened op so many doors and has given me the ability to meet tons of amazing, inspiring and authentic people, during my journey to create a better understanding of the world, one culture at a time..

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

I wish I could practice all my languages more frequently; I really enjoy speaking and simply love to connect with new people with different outlooks on life. I think the best way to learn any language is to fully immerse yourself with the natives of the country of origin and really get to know their culture, standards and beliefs. Just by hearing more than 25 people speaking fluently you get such a better understanding of the context behind what is being said. Languages are also an amazing way to get to know more friends, I recently discovered this organization called Mundo lingo, held in Buenos Aires. It is basically a language exchange which offers you free stickers of the flags corresponding to the languages you speak. This event opened my mind so much in terms of breaking the ice and starting a conversation with a stranger. Especially someone from a completely different background with tons of new stuff to teach you. For anyone looking to practice more, I highly recommend looking up a similar event in our area or if no exist be the one who takes the first step and get a group of friends to organize an event like this.

 

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

One language that challenges me allot is French, it sounds simply sound so different from the other Latin languages I know that I have a very hard time with pronunciation and listening to conversations. Japanese also intrigues me, especially because of the similarity it has to Portuguese. I honestly think the more I travel and get to know people from different countries, the more my interest sparks for learning other languages..

 

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

Well, that’s Papiamento of course. There is no language alike. This Caribbean gem is comprised out of so many different words and expressions from different languages that it gives you an arsenal of beautiful phrases to use, influence and seduce. My favourite, and I think every Aruban's favourite word is Dushi. This in a simple translation means sweet. But this word has so many positive meanings and associations that you can call almost everything Dushi. Like for example Dushi solo, Dushi cuminda, Dushi dia or even Dushi pais. Meaning: Amazing sun, delicious food, great day or sweet country. And of course, Dushi is the best translation for sweetheart or darling so on your visit to Aruba you are bound to hear people calling each other Dushi.

Next to Papiamento, my command in English is very high due to a large vocabulary I’ve built up during my studies. So, it’s the easiest language for me to say what I want, and exactly how I want it. The least sexy language I know just might be Dutch, but that’s because I always studied in Dutch and have a more strict and professional association with it.

 

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

Well that’s easy, Connection. There is now better way to get to now the world by getting to know the locals of each country you visit. And of course, you can ask a simple do you speak English and try your luck. But imagine reaching a bar in Germany, having a not so German appearance and ordering a beer in fluent German. Now that’s how you make some eyes roll. I wouldn’t say I use my hyperpolyglotism for my own good, but when you can listen and speak a certain language in a high degree of fluency this really gives you an upper hand in situations of creating influence. My real secret to getting the best connection possible with a native speaker is to learn some bad words, slang and the body language accompanied by different messages. Just try to really home in to listen and copy their intonation, volume and tempo as best as possible, adding your own swing to it, of course.

 

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?

Well I honestly hope that this doesn’t become reality. But with the widespread media takeover from big companies like Spotify, Netflix and other streaming services that limit our cultural consumption to a minimum of just the top charts artist that are either singing or speaking English or Spanish it’s only a matter of time before lots of small languages and cultures get lost in the mix

 

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

It just might be the most important decision you take in your life, think about it. Each new language is a key to open the heart of a complete country. People really value their culture and language. Think about it, how you value your own country and al its aspects. It is the essence of our being and forms who we are.

Now imagine you come in as a foreigner to a new country and effortlessly speak their language and communicate with them in the the way they feel the most comfortable.

For me, my journey with languages started with faith, but continued with passion.

 

Now for every once trying to learn a new language ill give you a simple plan you can follow to success.

1. Write an introduction about yourself.

If you can introduce yourself completely in any language out there, you are already 50 % in the homerun, and by introduction I don’t just mean a simple Bonjour je maple, Johana o John. But really telling someone who you are as a person, your interests your hobby your life situations. Try to make it as extensive as possible. Like a half a page.

 

2. Perfect this introduction in both grammar and speech.

Practice this introduction with someone that knows the sounds and intonation of this language. So, you’re not reading out German with an American accent or vice versa. Sounds are everything, and your mouth is the most complicated speaker that exists in the universe, train it and learn how to really dial in to all these new sounds. You could of course watch some YouTube videos, but letting someone that is fluent in your language of choice, correct and read your small intro-essay will give you such a secure feeling with these new sounds that you’ll be babbling away in no time.

 

3. Words words words, and some grammar of course.

Start by learning the words most relevant to you. For example, I study business and chose to learn a more business themed vocabulary. This surely benefits me in the long run and gives me that extra professionalism while speaking in a meeting or a simple business call. Learn words by associating them with other familiar words you know and writing each word down at least 3 times.

And then comes the good stuff Grammar baby! Every language student’s nightmare, especially if your studying Dutch!

Now you can go get a book and let it sit for a few weeks and accumulate dust or just pause that new sexy video clip on YouTube, and search for some simple grammar explanations. You won’t believe how much free content exists out there.

I always make simple drawings, or any type of logical system to remember the filler words and other important language stuff.

4. Have some fun

Don’t forget your expanding your mind, opening a new world and simply giving your life more meaning and purpose. Enjoy your journey. Travel to the country of the languages origin if life permits you. Go live the culture, see there way of being and especially practice with everyone you can. This trip is only to be done with a fellow language student or alone, so you take out all that cheating with your native language and fully immerse your soul into this new being.

 

Remember, every language is a new character for your mind, and the better you dominate them, the stronger they get.