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How many languages to be a polyglot?


I think there is no definition for this, but I was wondering at what stage do people start considering someone's a polyglot.

I've read that there is an "official" definition for hyperpolyglot: be fluent in 12 languages or more.

But what about polyglots?

  • Note: I do not consider myself a polyglot, it's not about me, I'm just curious ;-)
January 11, 2014


Sorted by top post


There is no standard of how well a person should speak a language before being called a polyglot or hyperpolyglot.
A Hyperpolyglot who knows, say, 12 languages may say that s/he speaks a few fluently, some conversationally, some fairly well and others not so well.

Polyglots face criticism from people who expect them to be fluent in a language, or consider them to not know the language.
In my opinion, if you can speak at B2 level, you know the langauge.


January 11, 2014


B2 is fluent, C2 is native level... But I don't settle for anything less than B2 ;-)

January 12, 2014


I think there is still quite a lot of work to be done beyond B2 to be considered fluent in my opinion. B2 is a very high level but I don't think B2 means you can understand everything that you hear through media, film and conversations. Certainly you can get context in most situations but you would alwalys feel that you are still missing something. You've essentially done the work by reaching B2 but I think there's still a lot of audio work to do.

January 12, 2014


Is be level of a language basic? I know basics in 4 languages. does that mean I am a polyglot? can I be a polyglot if start learning languages at the age of 36? I mean restart?

May 31, 2018


I speak four languages (English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese) but I've heard that to be a polyglot you need to know at least 5 or 6 languages. However, I've also heard that you don't even need to be conversational in all of them. I've seen somewhere that there are people who know ten languages at a basic level that consider themselves a polyglot. I'm learning a 5th language, so I'm not sure if that makes me a polyglot or not. I tend to not use labels like that because that opens the door for trolls to discourage you on how well you speak the languages

January 2, 2017


I've heard you have to speak 3-5 languages to be a polyglot. If you speak 2 then you're just bilingual. But to be a hyperpolyglot, you have to speak 6+ languages. I do plan of being a polyglot soon, but it will take a lot of work.

January 11, 2014


Huh? Then my friend is a polyglot!

April 7, 2017


No I think its next to your native you need 2 so 3 in total yeah but 1 of those 3 is your native and next to that you need to be able to speak atleast 2

December 23, 2017


This is really late, but I think it's over 3 languages. Here, we use monolingual, bilingual, and trilingual so after that, you're considered a polyglot.

November 17, 2017


What distinguishes a bilingual or multilingual from a polyglot is why someone speaks more than 1 language, rather than how many (other) languages they speak. A multilingual speaks more than one language because they are required to. A polyglot speaks more than one language because they simply want to. As long as you know more than 1 language, you are multilingual.

P.S. All polyglots are multilinguals, but not all multilinguals are polyglots. Assimilation can distinguish the two terms. I am native to both English and Sea Island Creole (Geechee). Many other Geechee people in my region are the same way because Geechee is neither accepted nor understood by the mainstream. Many jobs will not hire a person who only speaks Geechee and schools often do not recognize the language, or pass it off as uneducated english, so many, if not all of us will have to use English as opposed to this just English-based Creole. A creole is not a broken language, yet a language based of another language, with hundreds, if not thousands of daily words being of that other language (English in this case). In order to qualify as a broken language, one mustn't have a well-formed vocabulary.

November 19, 2017


which language you enjoy speaking more?

January 17, 2018


Technically, since it's a POLYglot, it only needs to be more than one language. In reality I think that everyone else is right in that it's around 5-6.

January 11, 2014


I´ve read that it´s 6 languages or more but I think the quality of the languages are more important in this case. There are many polyglots and even some that study 10 or more at the same time at various levels of functionality/or lack there of. However, for hyperpolyglots a higher standard is expected. I think a hyperpolyglot is expected to be able to speak all his/her languages well as well as being able to understand most things spoken and written. Functionality is the difference in my opinion :)

January 11, 2014


From what I've seen on the internet, it indeed starts at 5 or 6 languages. 3% of the world population speaks 4 or more languages, but only 1/1000 5 or more! (http://ilanguages.org/bilingual.php) However, I didn't find any mention of the level of fluency you're supposed to have acquired, which is kind of the whole point for me.

January 11, 2014


Having a large number of languages is admirable but it's even quite rare for a polyglot to have more than 3 languages at C2 CEFR fluency level. Most great polyglots with 10 or so languages struggle to be C1 all the time with their combinations. It just goes to show how difficult language learning can be at times and why it is such an intersting challenge :) Anyway, best of luck, you're certainly on the right path with your languages!

January 11, 2014


Haha, thanks but I'm not planning on becoming a polyglot, I'd rather speak a few really well than speak many badly ;-)

C1 is already pretty good! I'd like to be C1 German, I'm reaaaally far from it ;-)

January 11, 2014


Dr. Arguelles (famous hyperplyglot) said that a Polyglot knows at least 6 languages.
There is a general consensus in the language-learning community that a Hyperpolyglot needs to speak 12 languages (but, that is not a concrete number).

Interesting blog:

Professor Arguelles' insane language-learning schedule:

My favorite Hyperpolyglot (Oh la la, Luca!):


January 11, 2014


working on 4 now. :) I'm shooting for 13. Thanks for the info

December 10, 2014


I was wondering this myself.. So here are my thoughts: Technically speaking, the word 'poly' is derived from Latin meaning more than one or many. This is ambiguous I guess but we could relate it to the word 'polyamorous' (meaning to have more than one relationship at a time) . This would then mean that being a polyglot means to able to speak (supposedly without fluency just as an undeveloped relationship would be considered for a polyamorous person) more than one language at a singular point in your life. Therefore you would be considered a polyglot whether you are bi-lingual, trip-lingual or multi-lingual; however, I feel that there is a certain prestigious connotation for someone to be titled a polyglot (and I agree), so in a nutshell I guess the common conception is that you should speak >5 languages of decent fluency to be called a polyglot. My personal opinion is that a polyglot is anyone who is able to speak in several languages, several meaning a minimum of 4 but there is a huge variant of proficiency. Basically, speaking 4 languages at a high level or 10 languages (most) at a basic level (like Tim Doner) would both be polyglot-worthy I think..

I would like to ask the question, what is the difference between a multi-lingual person and a polyglot?

January 27, 2016


Poly is Greek. Multi is Latin.

December 11, 2016


I wonder about the same. In Norway we have two languages (Bokmål and Nynorsk), they are basically the same, and I understand 90-95% of the Danish and Swedish language. When I add English (also German and basic Polish from duolingo.com), does this make me a polygot?

October 20, 2016


If you speak 3 or more fluently than you're a polyglot. Or maybe minimum 2 fluently with atleast 2 proficiently

February 4, 2017


Wikipedia says you need to be influent in at least 6 languages to be a polyglot.

April 27, 2017


Going by the greek root, one language makes one a monoglot, two makes one bilingual, three makes one trilingual and more than four makes one a tetraglot or a quadrilingual, though nobody uses those words. Therefore, a polyglot can FLUENTLY speak more than four languages.

September 27, 2017


I would like to think that I am halfway between A2 and B1 in esperanto but I am struggling with being an A2 when it comes to anything else.

December 10, 2017


i can understand Italian, Spanish and Portugal language but i have never been studied them :D when i was little i just watched some TV shows in this languages and i remember all dialogues

January 15, 2018


I think more than 5 languages at C1 at least

January 20, 2018


None of the terminology seems to be very definitive.

March 29, 2019


I agree with benny lewis. I think C2 is really unessesary in most situations. Hell, think about how many English speaking natives can't talk as competently as a C2? I think 6 languages makes you just impressive. Fluency is being able to converse and survive. If that is B2 then hell yha baby.

April 23, 2019


If you can speak one language, you are monolinguistic, two languages makes you a bilingual person and three languages makes you a trilingual person.

If you can speak 4 or more languages you are a multilingual person (and a polyglot – if your level of competence in these 4 languages are at the B2 level or above).

Check out this blog post: https://www.becomeapolyglot.com/2019/04/20/what-is-a-polyglot/

I have also made a video to answer this question: "What is a polyglot?": https://youtu.be/jFdiDdqttyQ

April 29, 2019


that's personal, but at least B2 right ?

July 5, 2019
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