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Clearly, the average Belgian is a slacker.

June 24, 2008

It may have taken five months, but I have finally adjusted to the fact that everyone around me is mulitlingual. (by ‘multi’ I mean many. Many, many, many languages. )

At first, I was a bit shocked when my coworkers would start talking in not just Dutch or French but Bulgarian, Romanian, Turkish, Korean and Indonesian. However, after a week or two I ceased to be overly impressed, “That’s just their native language. So they know that plus English? No big deal.”

Then. I realized they all had an extra language or two under their belt – Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, French, Russian or various Arabic dialects. And I went back into a state of awe.

Now… I’m somewhat numb to the entire situation. 

For example, this past weekend one of Boyfriend’s coworkers (who is originally from Peru via Michigan and Portugal) introduced us to her 4 year old daughter. When she explained that this little ball of energy that couldn’t sit still for more than 5 minutes currently spoke 4.5 languages – Dutch, French, Spanish, Portugese and a bit of English – I took it all in stride and said, “Well, while I am around we can work on her English.” (inside, all I could think about is how much I want to be HER when I grow up.)

However. This story from the FT blows my mind.

 Now I’m a language teacher and have been settled in Rio de Janeiro for 30 years – despite earlier hiccups in Brazil like the CIA having me picked up. I have slowed down the rate at which I learn new languages. I want to pick up some dialects of the smaller Pacific islands, but for now it’s a lot of work just to keep from getting rusty in the 59 languages I already speak.

I think I’ll hit the Rosetta Stone or LiveMocha this weekend…

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