The Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava last summer brought together one must have been one of the most multilingual audiences of all time. What better place to attempt to break the record for the greatest number of languages spoken under one roof?
Four days of celebration of language and language learning were coming to an end. We all packed into the main lecture theatre to finish with a bang: an attempt on the Slovak record.
I’ve made this short video to share how it went.
It’s a selection of the one hundred and twenty-five languages that were spoken.
This was no attempt at a comprehensive or even representative round-up. I was really shooting for a few seconds “flavour” of this attempt to set a new language record for the last of my five daily vlogs from the Gathering.
There are, then, are some obvious gaps.
There’s no Welsh, to take a random example. That’s because it was me who stepped forward to speak it 🙂
Spanish isn’t there
because this site is a Spanish free zone but it’s not the only “biggie” I accidentally missed. Somehow, there’s no Russian either 🙁
It’s great that there were many languages with fewer speakers: Faroese, Navajo, Basque (but of course!).
It’s great that there are also a number of African languages (Zulu, Xhosa, Wolof).
I wish there were some Indian languages, though.
Hindi apart, they do seem to me to be under-represented in the “Polyglot community” as I’ve experienced it.
There was at least one Creole (Papiamento) and three sign languages (American, British and Slovak).
As I was editing the vid, I got to thinking again about that old question of the boundary between a langauge and a dialect. It’s so often about politics as much as language: Shanghainese is there, as is Milanese. A generation ago, would Croatian and Serbian have counted as two languages or just one?
Altogether, I was glad I was holding the camera rather than the pen.
I’m writing this from Reykjavík. As a new learner, I’m especially glad to say that I happened to have the camera switched on when somebody stepped up to speak Icelandic.
I hope you’ll enjoy the video and that it will help get you in the mood for next year’s Polyglot Gathering. It’ll be in Bratislava for a second time, towards the end of May/early June. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming details.
Vidíme sa tam! Hope to see you there!
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