https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PaolaThePrincess

How many languages can we learn?

how many languages can we actually learn??

August 27, 2016

30 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/panagiotis_ts

Short answer: As many as we want.

Long answer: Let's suppose that you start serious language learning at 15 and that you focus on 2 languages for 2 years (these 2 languages change every 2 years). Now let's suppose that you'll live for 80 years (average life expectancy). Let's do some maths now:

80-15 = 65 years

65/2 = 32.5 periods of 2 years

32.5X2 = 65 languages learned

So you are able to learn 65 languages at a decent level until you die. However, this is an insane goal, for which you'll have spend many hours a day for language learning until your death. And of course the number of languages will decrease if you don't practice the languages that you have learned while learning the new ones or if you suffer from dementia after some decades.

The most multilingual human is Ioannis Ikonomou (look for his name on wikipedia), a Greek translator who speaks more than 30 languages fluently.

I hope that this helps. Good luck with your languages! :-)

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NtateNarin

I'm always surprised how much information the human brain can hold. LOL, sometimes I feel as I learn new words, old words spill out of my brain. :-D

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/an3stis

Emil krebs mastered 68

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Emmanuelvega15

A normal person can learn 5 languages, It's your decision if you want to effort to learn more.

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/John00625

That's highly subjective. You can learn as many languages as you want, though it gets harder to learn the more languages you want to study.

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bookrabbit

actually it gets easier! much easier.

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/John00625

I meant the more you want to study at once, pardon my bad wording :)

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lavendar128

same with me

August 29, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DanieleGrech

That's a tough question. Some languages are very closely related, like Spanish and Portuguese. I know many of my Portuguese speaking family members can hear and understand a lot of Spanish. Although a few Spanish speaking girlfriends (all were from S.America) have told me they didn't understand a word from my family (who speak with Açorean accents). Although both Portuguese and Spanish speakers can read either language fairly well.

The same goes for the other Romance languages, and I find myself accidentally understanding Romanian words and sentences, but not necessarily understanding what is spoken.

I'm sure the same can be said for many other languages that share a common root. I've heard that Swedish/Danish/Norwegian are oddly related as well. Apparently some Swedes and Norwegians will understand each other better than some of their compatriots, depending on what regional accent they use.

So I guess you'd have to consider what languages you are trying to learn, and how closely related they are to each other. For example, I do not envy the many people in my neighbourhood who come from China speaking Mandarin or Cantonese, and then have to learn a whole new alphabet, and the ridiculous English language! Although they tell me it's a lot harder going the other way.

In my experience, I've found that a combination of necessity and learning style determines the outcome more than anything. If you become immersed in a new culture, then the necessity factor is high, and your personal ability to learn languages factors less. For many years I struggled to learn languages on my own by reading, and I was only ever to develop the ability to read.

I once worked with a Ugandan man who spoke 1 or 2 African languages before he went to Europe as an adult, and picked up 5 or 6 more languages. The necessity level was high, as he was there in university piking up a few masters degrees. He admitted that he was not the greatest at learning new languages, but he was still able to learn.

Former Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien didn't even start learning English until he was 30 years old, and was still able to attain the 2nd highest office in the land (technically the Governor General is higher ;P )

To summarise, I'd say there's no definite way to answer this question, as interesting as it is. The only way to find out is to try! Good luck.

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DawnSocher0

On this thing? I think all the ones they have avalible. We CAN learn every single language in existence, although the would probrably super super hard. Other than that, fellow French learner I'd stick with one until a higher level, I'm also learning Spanish and they're pretty similar and I end up sometimes getting mixed up but that's only for a little while you get the hang of it.

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DanieleGrech

That's a good observation. French and English have many words in common, French and Spanish are both Romance languages, but all three have a relation to Latin. You're doing what I call "puddle-jumping", taking smaller leaps from one language to the other.

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DawnSocher0

Thanks, Italian is similar aswell. Also thanks again, you made me feel smart :)

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DanieleGrech

Yes, I find it is just a LITTLE bit more tricky than Spanish. But knowing a bit of Spanish and French will both help you pick up Italian.

August 28, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DawnSocher0

Agreed, I haven't started officially learning Italian, but I went to Italy last summer and I could hear the similarities.

August 28, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DanieleGrech

Italians and their dialects are a different story altogether. My mother speaks Sicilian, but can't understand Italians. My plan is to refresh my Spanish and Portuguese knowledge before I take a good stab at Italian. Then I will attempt to jump that puddle to Sicilian, since I haven't found any good resources for that.

August 28, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PaolaThePrincess

lol thanks ill keep that in mind

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DawnSocher0

No problem, glad to help!

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elizabeth261736

There is no limit provided you are interested and motivated.

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FinbarrMoloney

They are time consuming but dozens over a lifetime is quite possible. Personally I've replaced computer games with duo lingo and have been improving noticeably over the last two months. So much more satisfying than computer games too!

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VictusMaestro

If you're talking physical limitation, then you could learn every language. The problem is the time it takes to learn them. Many people don't want to commit to it, and those that do know the struggle of staying committed just to one or maybe two at a time.

I think the better question to ask is how many languages you need to know. I'd say this category consists of whatever your country's native language is and any languages spoken by your family (especially in-laws, you can easily find out what they feel about you if they think you don't understand), with the primary language of your work industry being a big plus (for example, I work in an industry centered around francophone Switzerland, so I chose French).

From there you can think about which ones you'd like to know. Maybe for travel, maybe for the sheer curiosity. That was Hungarian for me...I heard it and it sounded beautiful so I said that would be next.

So in short, my recommendation is don't make it a numbers game. That takes a lot of the heart out of it. Depending on where you are located, even just one additional language can open a lot of new doors, and here in the US, even just 3 languages puts you in a very small percentage of the population.

August 31, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WraythRose

...this is a french saying I came across before you might like?

Un homme qui parle trois langue est trilingue Un homme qui parle deux langue est bilingue Un homme qui parle qu'un langue est Anglais! ― Claude Gagnière

...swapping anglais for all those monolingual americans ;)

September 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/90F-rench

as many as you want, but it will be hard to keep up a daily streak for over a week with 5 or more languages to remember and still learn.

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Patrick340860

I am studying six and I am at day streak so far.

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DanieleGrech

Keeping the achievements golden gets a little hairy at that point.

August 28, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LICA98

as many as there are available here

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WraythRose

you seem to be giving the as many as available bit a run for it's money XD

September 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ruferales

If you manage to learn all the languages of the world, you become The Devil!

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DanieleGrech

Or filled with the Holy Spirit, depending on personal preference.

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DawnSocher0

lol

August 27, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nathaly.s.

I know people who can speak fluently from 4 to 7 languages. I think they are intelligent of course but anyone can learn. I think I can speak 2 and I'm learning 2 that in few time I can get fluent. In the past I studied a bit other 2 that I could restart and learn quickly. So, I think a normal person like me could learn easily 6 languages. I think it depends on how much can you invest or is worth of investing on, since there is people with 30.

August 27, 2016
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