I love learning new languages. I grew up studying French and later went on to live in Italian- and Spanish-speaking countries, which allowed me to quickly pick up new Romance languages. I’ve also got a little Japanese under my belt and am occasionally trying to learn Russian (primarily by watching music videos on YouTube, it’s true). What I didn’t realize was that there is an entire community of people out there who are much more dedicated to learning languages than I am. Their goal? To become hyper-polyglots, or people who speak many languages (the usual definition is twelve or more!).
Babel No More by Michael Erard seeks to understand these awesome/insane individuals. Erard traveled the world, in the process exploring the legacies of history’s famed (or, supposed!) hyper-polyglots and meeting contemporary language lovers. It seems that some people use language learning as an excuse to avoid communication (“Sorry, I can’t come out tonight, I have to study Ancient Greek…”) while others learn languages to broaden their opportunities to communicate. Regardless of why you love languages, I highly recommend this book!