How Many Language Do You Speak?

A multilingual warning about having to be aware of the tram weighing 30 rhinos

We can always use the word multilingual instead of polyglot and those two mean the same; being able to speak numerous languages. Poly means many, glot comes from glossia which means tongue. Most Indonesians speak at least two languages because beside the national language, bahasa Indonesia, they also speak their regional language. I speak Javanese. So by adding English, many Indonesians speak three languages, but are not yet considered a polyglot.

The point is that a recent study showed that speaking more than a language boost the brain’s performance. The study showed a correlation between speaking two or more languages and having a better empathy and a better problem solving skill. This had to do with the ability to make analogies as in speaking in a different language where we try to find the replacing words, thus making more neuronal connections. The article stated that many Europeans speak only one language, making me think that most Indonesians must have been much more empathetic if the above assertion is true.

Does the study suggest that foreign language teachers, and other professionals who are required to speak at least two languages, have better brains? Well, it also stated that learning a second or a third language is not necessarily the only way to improve our empathy and other aspects of brain performance because there are tons of way, for example reading books, owning a pet, and maybe even gardening. Oh, I would also like to conclude that improving the brain performance will always be valuable rather than useless, because the more it is used, the better it is, including to prevent brain-related diseases.

Having been living around English-speaking people for eight months made me at least feel more confident about my language proficiency. And now I want to feel for the fact in the article, that when my level of English increases, I am indeed more empathetic towards other people. Well at least I would love to believe that it is true. Now I am thrilled to learn another language, and add more once I am fluent enough, to finally become a polyglot.

At the end of the day, it is plausible that paying a lot of money (well, in my opinion) to master a new language is another investment to prevent diseases related to the brain deterioration like dementia.


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