Wednesday, 13 May 2015
"Diglossa is a characteristic of speech communities rather than individuals. Individuals may be bilingual. Societies or communities are diglossic. In other words, the term diglossa describes societal or institutionalised bilingualism, where two varieties are required to cover all the community's domains."
"The term polyglossa has been used for situations [...] where a community regularly uses more than two languages."
Janet Holmes (in the excellent book) An introduction to Sociolinguistics (p 30, 32)
A polyglot is not necessarily fluent, but is able to speak and use several languages. A polyglot is not always bi(tri)lingual. A polyglot may have only one native tongue or even none. Using several languages may mean that none is learnt from childhood as a native language. A polyglot is not fluent in all languages used.
I have a native language (thanks mother), as well as some fluent languages. I also have professional working knowledge of several other languages and I can comfortably be polite in some more. I have also learnt languages that now are almost forgotten, such as Hungarian.
Szia! Jó napot! Egészségére! Igen, de sajnos, nem tudom - after that I am quite lost.
wait, wait - kulch, I remember kulch. Kulch is key!
Maybe there is even more left after all these years...
Anyway, the point - there is a point - Languages takes time and effort to get, as well as to keep.
They however never completely leave you.
Some of what you learnt will always be somewhere in there, but it might take some days of immersion to start tapping it again.
I learn languages just like everybody else. Through hard work, hours of word writing, translating, talking to my self, putting stickers around the house, using a spare minute to look up a new word and to get back, revise, forget, revise, get back and revise and by never give up. And then I open my mouth with the natives, make a complete ass of myself and remain the foreigner with the funny accent for ever. But I am in.