Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

Famous polyglot gets an adrenaline rush learning new languages

Richard Simcott has studied over 50 languages so far and will learn Afrikaans and Zulu this year.

Richard Simcott(Source: Richard Simcott)

While most five-year-olds were just learning to read and write in their native tongue, Englishman Richard Simcott was learning French, now one of five home languages he uses with his wife and daughter in Skopje, Macedonia. Simcott’s fascination with languages only grew with time and now, he’s regarded as one of the most famous polyglots in the world.

A polyglot is described as someone who knows and can speak several languages but in Simcott’s case, hyperpolyglot might be a better descriptor.

‘‘I’ve studied over 50 languages so far, and for travel, I use about 25 of them throughout the year,’’ describes Simcott, who attended the Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava last week.

Simcott’s passion for languages has led him all over the world. He studied and worked in the Czech Republic, Sweden, and the Netherlands, where he used an average of eight languages a day working as a network engineer. For six years, he has hosted international polyglot gatherings and will host the next one in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

He likes to spend the summers outside of Macedonia to escape the scorching temperatures, so this year he will travel to South Africa. For Simcott, this is the perfect excuse to add some new languages to his already impressive arsenal.

‘‘Whenever I’m going to a new place I like to learn the language so this year it’s going to be Afrikaans and then I’ll do a little bit of Zulu and some Xhosa, too.’’

Like the locals do

Simcott does not learn every language on the same level. He’s fluent in languages like French, Italian, and Macedonian, which he’s spoken for thirteen years, while other languages are spoken on a more basic, conversational level.

‘‘It would be insane for me to say to you that I’m going to learn to speak Afrikaans on a native-speaker level. There’s just no need for it.’’

What languages does Simcott speak? The language learner's high

The rest of this article is premium content at Spectator.sk
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on Spectator.sk
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on Sme.sk and Korzar.sk

The processing of personal data is subject to our Privacy Policy and the Cookie Policy. Before submitting your e-mail address, please make sure to acquaint yourself with these documents.

Top stories

Slovaks who fled the 1968 occupation tell their stories

How would it feel to pack my suitcases tonight and leave all this tomorrow morning, never to return?

Last days in Austria before departure from the US. Valika Tóthová and her family (parents Pavol and Hedviga Solar, sisters Alica and Darinka, and son Petrík)
Autorkou fotky je .

Prominent architect felt he needed to prove himself abroad

Slovakia today grapples with the same problems as Germany and Austria, opines Peter Gero.

Peter Gero and wife in Germany.

Tanks have stripped the regime naked

Communist leaders cared little about the ideology. They only wanted power.

Tanks in Bratislava

Tanks rumbled through the streets, crushing everything in their way

Tim Wade visited Czechoslovakia in 1968 as a 12-year-old boy. Here are his memories from the invasion in Prague.

My family with our Czech friends in Jihlava.