Polyglots and the US

Video: https://youtu.be/V2DzUzdJYKQImage result for language

Hello! I’m Rogan, and welcome to my YouTube channel/website. I’ve had several new people subscribe to me recently, so thank you for subscribing! I hope you will enjoy my posts/videos. Today, I want to talk about something related to one of my favorite topics: language. Language – it doesn’t matter if it’s spoken, written, signed, I don’t care – is something I love. I love learning things about other languages. I mean, when I was seven, I wanted to move to Japan. Just so I would know their language. So you could say language is kind of my thing. I’m going to give you a little bit of background on what languages I DO know and what I’m learning, and all that. I’ll start with languages that I know well. First, ASL. Obviously. Second, English. Not as obvious, but I do all my captions myself. I type everything myself. I will get into more later why that’s not as obvious as ASL. Third, International Sign. I am not going to say that I’m skilled and a pro at International Sign, because I’m not. I’m pretty good with International, yes, but I still have things that can be improved with my IS. Fourth, Auslan. Again, I’m not a professional with Auslan. I’m at more of a conversational skill with Auslan. Besides, I do feel like my skill with Auslan has gone down recently because I haven’t really been chatting with people who use Auslan. So… If you would like to chat with me in Auslan, let me know! Those four are the languages that I’m either good at, or know well enough. I am currently working on practicing/learning four languages on Duolingo. By the way, I love this app. Duolingo is an app where you can learn and practice languages. If your primary language is English, it will teach you how to translate from English to French, for example, and from French to English. It’s great for grammar practice and such. There are some things that are a little odd, that aren’t really used in everyday use but still, it’s a good base jumping point. Just so you know, this is not sponsored. I seriously love this app. If you would like to sponsor this… Let me know? The four languages that I’m learning on Duolingo right now are French, Spanish, Italian, and Danish. I am not ANYWHERE near being capable of using these languages to have a conversation. But I would love to practice these, so… If you don’t mind, or are willing to help me learn how to use them – LET ME KNOW! Okay, I’ve already spent a lot of this post talking about all that so, let’s move on and get to the point of this post.

I want to explain a little bit about polyglots. The basic definition is a person who can use multiple languages. I consider myself a polyglot. Yes, I may not be very skilled in all of the languages. But I do and can understand some of a lot of different languages. Interesting fact! One of the most noted hyperpolyglots is an Italian priest named Giuseppe Gasparo Mezzofanti. He spoke 30-72 languages! 30 is a lot to begin with, but 72!? Wow! Polyglots are different from bilinguals and trilinguals. Bilingual means you know two languages, tri means three languages. Polyglot usually means four or more languages. Most Deaf people are usually at least bilinguals because of ASL and English. Notice I emphasized the “most” part. Why did I do that? There are Deaf people who sign fluently but never really knew English enough to consider themselves fluent. Reverse that, there are Deaf people who are oral. They speak and write, but don’t know ASL. So being bilingual doesn’t apply to every Deaf person. There are very few Americans, and even fewer Deaf Americans who are polyglots. Part of that is because of the US education system. Most Americans don’t really have an opportunity to learn other languages. Yes, many high schools will give an opportunity to learn foreign languages, and even require it. But that’s usually one year, two years, and that’s it. Plus, once it’s taken and completed with a good grade, usually everything is forgotten. They forget everything because they don’t really have the opportunity to use it everyday. Sure, in some areas like southern California, there are a lot of people who speak Spanish. Many people speak Spanish there so that’s a nice advantage for remembering and using a language, but in most of the country, there’s one language – English. To be able to really know and use a language, you have to have the opportunity available to use it in everyday life and immerse yourself in that language. That doesn’t really happen in the US. Sigh. The US education system, in my opinion, needs to have a lot changed and improved on. But for me, the biggest thing is languages. In the US, the top language spoken is obviously English. The second is Spanish. The third or fourth, depending on which survey, is ASL. Imagine if in the school system, from age five and up, children were taught using Spanish or ASL. Teaching in those languages, speaking/signing and using that in the class everyday. Imagine that! By the time these children graduate high school, they can use those languages and not have to be stuck on not knowing it. They can say, “Sure, I know this language, no problem.” That would really change how the US uses and views language. In Europe, in many schools, you are required to learn two or three languages from the very beginning of school. I think that would be nice to have here in the US too. True, not many people actually use more than one language but still! Even Canada, in their Quebec province! They speak French and English. So yeah, I would love to see more value put on languages here in the US. More than it is now anyway. Plus actually give more opportunities for people to learn languages outside of high school. I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about language, polyglots, and a little about the deaf community too! Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next time!

Published by Rogan Shannon

Hello there! I'm Rogan, a queer deaf guy who has a passion for leadership and advocacy. I create YouTube videos about a lot of different topics - being deaf, queer, reading, language, and whatever else interests me!

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