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How many languages do you need to know to be a polyglot?

So I was just curious. I know 2 languages English(C2) Tamil it’s an Indian language(B2 speaking and A1 writing) and have been doing french for 2 1/2 years this is my 3rd year and I’m in french 2 honors. I have a proficiency level in french of B1. I also know a very small bit of Spanish like hello saying my name some colors and counting up to 15. I don’t think I’m considered a polyglot what do you think?

October 28, 2017



My two cents: You can say that you speak a language once you get to B2 (speaking) level. Below that level, you are learning the language, but still not a X language speaker.

Two languages: Bilingual

Three languages: Trilingual

Four languages and more: Polyglot

I am currently learning my fourth language. But to be honest, I don't think that I will consider myself as a polyglot once I get to my desired level. To me, being a polyglot has more to do with the passion of learning MULTIPLE languages than the number of languages you know.


I'd say, you're a polyglot if you speak three languages at C1 level.


What do you mean by "C1 level"


A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2--->C2=Master

It's the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).


It's an irrelevant term.which holds very little meaning.

When somebody says he's a polyglot you learn almost nothing: not how many languages he speaks, nor which languages he speaks, nor how well he speaks them. The term polyglot mostly just serves as self-complementing and as a humble-brag.

It's ok to be proud of the fact that you are able to speak multiple languages, but when you communicate it through a humble-brag you do risk it being it being taken negatively. (it's not like I never humble-brag myself - I'm just warning that it might not be the best way to communicate the fact that you're able to speak multiple languages)


Just say how many languages you speak, polyglot is a vague term that has no number assigned to it. Anyone that cares or even knows what polyglot is will ask how many languages you speak anyway.

Lead with the number.


You're right, you're not a polyglot.

I had always heard that you're a polyglot at 5 languages, but only if you're fluent in them. So, at least C1 in four languages other than your native languages. The label of polyglot isn't that important, it's rare to have a real need for more than three languages. But, before you focus too much on even more languages than you're already working on, you should really practice and study English grammar more.


There is no reliable defenition of how many languages you have to speak in order to be allowed to label yourself as a polyglot.

Poly = many, glot = tongues.
"Many" is more than 1.

The misconception that you need to be fluent in 4+ or 5+ languages is just some arbitrary not profound number mentioned by some dubious self-called internet "polyglots" who pretend to be some kind of authority. In reality, they are not and only want to make money with their overpriced products on the expense of desperated language learners.

I guess, I now trod on the toes of some individuals that regards the mentioned group as godlike. But idgaf ;)


My French teacher in 8th grade is a polyglot she knows 5 languages but knows English and french best she can speak french at a native level.


No. There’s no requirement that you speak five languages fluently. The literal definition in speaking several languages. Several = more than two.

Depends on the fluency in French. At B1, probably the OP is not. But if they get fluent, then they would be.

By the way, I love Tamil. I can stumble around with a bit of Hindi, but no Tamil at all, and I think it is beautiful.



Fluency is very relative.

Firstly: where do you lay the bar?

Secondly: fluency generally refers to speech. It's possible to pass a C2 exam without being able to speak the language fluently, plus some people are able to speak a language fluently with just a very, very small vocabulary.


Yes, I think 5 languages is still an arbritary number, but it makes sense. From personal experience I find that educated people in Europe often speak 3 or 4 languages, but 5 is rare and usually only found with people who learn multiple languages out of personal interest, i.e. polyglots.

Usually the story of people with 4 languages go like this: They come from a region in which two languages are used, i.e. Catalonia or Belgium, then they learn English in school and later decide to move the another country, e.g. Germany. Alternatively they can also be immigrants instead of living in a bilingual region, or they took the opportunity to learn a second foreign language in school seriously.


It's debatable as to what a polyglot is. I've always considered it to be and heard that it's someone who can speak 4+ languages. Whether you speak them fluently or not I don't know because I doubt most polyglots can even speak all 4 of their languages fluently - for example, most people who speak 20 languages can only speak about 5 fluently.

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