Cloggers, ballroom dancers and break dancers put on very different shows. At a professional level, you are bound to be very entertained even if clogging isn’t necessarily your cup of tea. Break dancing fans also have to admit that there are some real posers out there who are not very good. Wouldn’t it feel just plain rude if you saw a clogger walk out of a professional ball room performance saying, “Well, it was a nice show but I just don’t understand how they can call themselves dancers.”
That is exactly the kind of thing I’ve heard many Polyglots and aspiring Polyglots say. What many of us fail to realize is that we often have different goals when we start learning languages. A ball room dancer is trying to do something different than what a break dancer is doing but they are both dancers. From what I can tell, there are three main types of Polyglots: Dispersoglots, Perfectoglots and Lectoglots.
Perfectoglots: Polyglottery’s Committed Polygamists
Many Perfectoglots are raised speaking two or three languages. It is not unusual for them to have lived in several countries or for them to have spouses and friends that speak several languages. Their jobs also usually include several languages. Being a Polyglot is a way of life for them. Perfectoglots generally know between four and six languages at a very high level. To them, any language worth learning is worth learning well. They are often so good that it is difficult to tell what the Perfectoglots’ native languages are or where they are from.
Cons to being a Perfectoglot: Perfectoglots run the risk of being bland and playing it safe. For many, their self-esteem is based on how well they can learn a language so they may avoid languages that are unrelated to those they already know. They are often only interested in Far Eastern, Indic, European, etc. languages but not usually a mix of them. Consequently, they wind up missing out on what many other cultures have to offer.
It’s not unusual for Perfectoglots to appear a little snobby. They expect a lot from themselves and that often transfers to their expectations of other self-proclaimed Polyglots. If you want to gain a Perfectoglot’s respect it’s best to stick to your strengths.
Pros to being a Perfectoglot: Perfectoglots really master their languages; they don’t let their languages master them. They leave few, if any, communication barriers between them and others who speak their languages. In fact, they almost always know more about the languages they speak than native speakers. If they don’t get showered with praise for how well they know a certain language it’s because people believe that it is their native language and it would be silly to praise someone for how well they speak their native tongue.
These formidable skills give them richly profound professional and cultural experiences. They feel that a cultural knowledge, in addition to a linguistic knowledge, is necessary to really understand a language. They can usually understand and tell jokes, make literary and pop-culture references and use special sayings and refrains very well. There are those who feel that Perfectoglots are the only real Polyglots because they think that the only worthwhile language learning goal is native like mastery.
Examples of Perfectoglots: Joaquim de Alameida, the UN interpreters.
Are you a Perfectoglot? Do you know one? Do you want to be one? Are you more of a Dispersoglot or are you reserving your judgement until you find out what a Lectoglot is? I’ll be back with another post about that in a few days.
Filed under: Polyglots