A Message from
Dr. Usman W. Chohan
Greetings to current and prospective members!
It is my pleasure to share with you my excitement in founding HYPIA for hyperpolyglots around the world to improve, authenticate, attest, and grow their fluency in the many languages that they speak, write, and communicate through. Hyperpolyglots represent something truly beautiful and exceptional in the world, and our organisation is committed to the same ideals which initially inspire all hyperpolyglots: a curiosity and a sense of wonder; a desire to connect with others, and the longing for a greater bond with, and understanding about, our world.
It struck me as quite odd that an association equivalent to HYPIA had not yet existed. I found this strange because there is a growing international body of hyperpolyglots who excel in a great many languages and who in many cases apply this to their professional and personal lives with great frequency and still greater ease. In a world defined by greater globalisation, there is a pressing need to distinguish between those who are polyglots (more than three languages), and those who are bona fide hyperpolyglots (more than six).
Having identified this gap in the practitioner sphere, I worked towards founding HYPIA in late 2016 and was met with great initial reception from hyperpolyglots around the world. Most of them have joined or are in the process of joining today. It brings me supreme pleasure to see my motivation reinforced by the passion of new members. These hyperpolyglots are, through perhaps a natural gift but certainly through dedication and skill, a special breed entirely in the world, and represent the very best of the human mind at work.
I personally draw inspiration from my ancestral connection with linguistics. The first scientific linguistic work was done by a 5th century scholar of Sanskrit named Panini. He was born in Charsadda, Pakistan at the height of the Gandhara period. In a sense, I see my work in HYPIA as continuing that practitioner interest in studying languages. HYPIA should represent both a continuity with a world spirit of inquiry into languages, and it must also be a vehicle for globalisation that unites people in disparate geographies towards a goal of celebrating and enhancing linguistic diversity.
I began to acquire fluency at the hyperpolyglot level at a late age (mid-twenties), but I have mustered a singular dedication to the acquisition of new languages at regular intervals. I am on the slightly tempered side compared to some of our more outstanding members, but I have complete fluency in seven Indo-European languages, while I am conversant in a Sino-Tibetan language and an Altaic language. I study a Finno-Ugric language, an Afro-Semitic language, and an Altaic language when I find the occasion. All this shouldn’t seem so odd, and in our community at HYPIA it certainly doesn’t, because I have called nine countries on five different continents my “home,” by which I mean that I have lived in each of those countries for two years or more.
Such a linguistic portfolio has enriched not just my personal life (I can count friends from 135 countries), but also my professional life – particularly given that I have worked with or through the most culturally diverse organisations on earth including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.
Language is the rich fabric that enshrouds all experience that is truly human. Those who are hyperpolyglots therefore adorn multiple layers of beautiful fabrics at the same time. They have multiple lives in one sense; and they certainly have multiple souls. It is my honour to welcome new hyperpolyglots to that fold so that we can attest to one another’s hard work and celebrate what is likely to be the greatest achievement in each of our lives.
Usman W. Chohan, PhD
Founder and President,
The International Association