What is a polyglot?

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What is a polyglot?

Message  Philippe-Henri le Mar 20 Sep - 22:43

What is a polyglot? As its Greek name says, a polyglot is a person who can speak or write or understand several languages, including his mother tongue. Now, language isn’t just a tool to convert thought into speech. Language carries and promotes also the image of a culture. This means that a polyglot is supposed to identify with the culture associated with the human group which the native speaker belongs to. In other words, a polyglot participates subconsciously in cross-fertilization of a wide range of different cultural values with their even wider unspoken corollary of ideas and mentalities.

This is why, in today's world torn to shreds by ideological conflicts, the Polyglot Café principle may be an offering, however meagre, to understanding, tolerance and peace. Let's not show too idealistic in a world led by hungry money and power wolves. Our contribution is a drop in the ocean. But many drops can eventually form an ocean…

Despite that, I feel some frustration. I've been attending the weekly meetings in Polyglot Café Lille more or less regularly for a couple of years. It's my pleasure, as a Frenchman, to hang around out there, moving from one "table" to another, preferably the English one, in my attempt to improve my English (which is not my mother tongue) and to learn about the culture of the U.K., U.S.A. and overseas English-speaking countries. Unfortunately, there are no native speakers. As a result, I find myself by and large amidst my fellow countrymen speaking a mumbo-jumbo Frenglish. Thus, for me, the Café turns out to be just a social meeting point, which is quite pleasant, of course, but which has nothing to do with the cultural exchange lying behind the original "polyglot" idea.

Philippe-Henri van der Laan
Polyglot Café Lille




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Re: What is a polyglot?

Message  FlyingDutchman le Mer 21 Sep - 11:59

Really well written article! You've made a point. I fully agree with you.

Jaap

Le Touquet/Dunkirk
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