Interview with

Victor 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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