This book examines the lives of some figures who manage to study and master not one or two foreign languages, but dozens. The reviewer claims that what might sound like dull material is actually quite fascinating as Michael Erard looks back to discuss prominent language masters of old, such as Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti, who could respond simultaneously to many different queries in different languages.
Erard then tracks down today’s polyglots and, to use a word I have never heard in any language, probes the differences between multilinguals and hyperpolyglots! The former are people learn a few languages out of necessity, such as those who live in border areas, and the latter study for the sake of mastering numerous foreign languages. Author Peter Constantine himself knows several languages, so he approaches this topic with passion and inside knowledge. Tip: If you want to nail down more than 6 languages, be prepared to apply yourself mightily.