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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from

  • BBC Learning English. I m Neil.

  • And I'm Rob.

  • Bonjour, Rob! Kon nichi wa!

  • Excuse me?

  • Hola! Como estas?

  • Oh, OK, I think Neil's saying 'hello'

  • in different languages - French, was it?

  • And then.. Japanese? And

  • Spanish? Is that right?

  • Si, muy bien!

  • The English are famously slow to learn

  • other languages. But it seems that

  • Rob and I - and of course you - our

  • global audience here at 6 Minute

  • English - are good examples of

  • polyglots people who speak

  • more than one language,

  • sometimes known as

  • 'superlinguists'. People who speak

  • multiple languages benefit from

  • many advantages, as we'll be

  • hearing in this programme.

  • That word polyglot sounds familiar,

  • Neil. Doesn't the prefix 'poly' mean,

  • many ?

  • That's right, like polygon - a shape

  • with many sides.

  • Or polymath - someone who

  • knows many things.

  • And speaking of knowing things,

  • it s time for my quiz question.

  • The word polyglot comes from

  • Greek and is made up of two parts:

  • poly, which as Rob says, means

  • many, and glot . But what does

  • glot mean? What is the meaning

  • of the word polyglot? Is it:

  • a) many words?, b) many sounds?

  • or c) many tongues?

  • Well, there's three syllables in polyglot,

  • Neil, so I reckon it s b), many sounds.

  • OK, Rob, we ll find out if that's right

  • at the end of the programme.

  • But leaving aside the origins of the

  • word, what exactly does being

  • a polyglot involve? British-born

  • polyglot, Richard Simcot speaks

  • eleven languages. Listen to his

  • definition as he speaks to BBC

  • World Service programme,

  • The Documentary:

  • A polyglot for me can be anyone

  • who identifies with that term - it's

  • somebody who learns languages

  • that they don't necessarily need for

  • their lives, but just out of sheer

  • enjoyment, pleasure or fascination

  • with another language or culture.

  • For Richard, being a polyglot simply

  • means identifying with the idea -

  • feeling that you are similar or

  • closely connected to it.

  • He says polyglots learn languages

  • not because they have to, but for

  • the sheer enjoyment, which means,

  • nothing except enjoyment. Richard

  • uses the word sheer to emphasise

  • how strong and pure this enjoyment is.

  • As well as the pleasure of speaking

  • other languages, polyglots are also

  • better at communicating with others.

  • My favourite quote by South Africa's

  • first black president, Nelson Mandela, is:

  • "If you talk to a man in a language he

  • understands, that goes to his head.

  • If you talk to him in his language, that

  • goes to his heart."

  • How inspiring, Rob - I'm lost for words!

  • Here's another: "To have another language

  • is to possess a second soul".

  • So language learning is good for

  • the head, heart and soul - a person's

  • spirit or the part of them which is

  • believed to continue existing after death.

  • Yes - and what's more, language learning

  • is good for the brain too. That's

  • according to Harvard neuroscientist,

  • Eve Fedorenko. She's researched the

  • effects of speaking multiple languages

  • on the brains of growing children.

  • Eve predicted that multilingual

  • children would have hyperactive

  • language brains. But what she actually

  • found surprised her, as she explains

  • here to BBC World Service's

  • The Documentary:

  • What we found - this is now people who

  • already have proficiency in multiple

  • languages - what we found is that their

  • language regions appear to be smaller,

  • and that was surprising - and as people

  • get better and better, more automatic

  • at performing the task, the activations

  • shrink, so to speak, over time, it becomes

  • so that you don't have to use as much brain

  • tissue to do the task as well, so you

  • become more efficient.

  • Eve was testing children who already

  • have language proficiency - the skill and

  • ability to do something, such as

  • speak a language.

  • Her surprising discovery was that the

  • language regions of these children's

  • brains were shrinking - not because

  • their speaking skills were getting worse,

  • but the opposite; as they learned and

  • repeated language patterns, their brain

  • tissue became more efficient - worked

  • quicker and more effectively.

  • It's suggested that this increased efficiency

  • is a result of exposure to different languages.

  • So that proves it, Neil: speaking many languages

  • is good for the head, heart, mind and soul!

  • You took the words right out of my mouth!

  • And speaking of words, what does the

  • glot in polyglot actually mean?

  • Was my answer correct?

  • Ah, that's right. In my quiz question

  • I asked you for the meaning of

  • the word polyglot.

  • And I said, b) many sounds.

  • But in fact the correct answer was

  • c) many tongues. You may be a polyglot,

  • Rob, but you're not quite a polymath yet!

  • OK, well, let me get my brain tissues

  • working by recapping the vocabulary,

  • starting with polyglot - someone who

  • speaks many languages.

  • The language centres in a polyglot's

  • brain are efficient - they work quickly

  • and effectively in an organised way.

  • Proficiency means the skill and ability

  • to do something well. And if you identify

  • with something, you feel you are similar

  • or closely connected to it.

  • Polyglots learn languages for the sheer

  • enjoyment of it - a word meaning 'nothing except'

  • which is used to emphasise

  • the strength of feeling. So speaking

  • many languages is good for

  • mind and soul - a person's

  • non-physical spirit which some

  • believe to continue after death.

  • That's it for this programme, but

  • to discover more about language

  • learning, including some useful

  • practical tips, check out

  • The Superlinguists series from

  • BBC World Service's The Documentary!

  • Bye for now!

  • Bye!

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For the love of foreign languages - 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/01/14
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