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poisonedantidote's avatar

How many languages do you know at least one word in?

Asked by poisonedantidote (21611points) July 19th, 2012

I have always been good with languages, I was raised speaking three at the same time, and later went on to learn more. I am now fluent in five and working on my sixth one.

I have always been proud of how many languages I know. However, recently I learned that there are some people, who have managed to become proficient it up to and over 120 different languages. The world record currently stands at 58 languages spoken fluently, held by a man called Ziad Fazah.

I know what you are thinking, “BULLSHIT!”, that is what I thought too. However, some of these people have been tested under controlled conditions, and did indeed manage to communicate with loads of people from different countries.

So, this question is how do you stack up?

How many languages do you know at least one word in?

As I am mainly interested in seeing what capacity people have for memorizing words, feel free to include dialects, internet speak, and fictional or dead languages too.

If I include Klingon, ancient Sumerian, the made up language from the movie “The Time Machine”, Latin, a couple of Spanish dialects, and the fact that I know what a ROFLCOPTER is, then I come in at 22.

How about you?

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24 Answers

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I am fluent in English and internet speak, but I know just enough to get myself in trouble or killed in:
and ASL

I am also somewhat proficient in:
and Cat

wundayatta's avatar

I’d say I know at least one word in around fifteen languages. Some of them aren’t such polite words. ;-)

gailcalled's avatar

Finnish (thanks to @jblondesjon
Classical Greek
modern Greek

YARNLADY's avatar

If you count all the borrowed words in the English language it would be around 50.

mowens's avatar

Isn’t no universal?

mowens's avatar

@ucme you know half a word from a full language, or a whole word from a half language?

Just want to clarify.

gailcalled's avatar







muppetish's avatar

@YARNLADY makes a good point, but I’ll try off the top of my head: English (elephant), French (puits), Spanish (chiquitita), Italian (ciao), Russian (matryoshka), Mandarin (Nín hǎo), Finnish (hän), Swedish (hen), Dutch (Sinterklaas), Danish (hygge), Japanese (hajimemashite), Hawaiian (ohana), Greek (mimesis), Swahili (simba), Yiddish (chutzpah)... and I know how to sign a few things in American Sign Language.

ucme's avatar

@mowens Just my dimidium pectus pectoris attempt at latin.

Sunny2's avatar

And others in which I only know the name of some things they eat. Some of them are languages in which I’ve sung.
Mostly, I tried to learn Yes, no, thank you, hello, and goodby any where I traveled. I did not always succeed.

Thammuz's avatar

One word?

– Italian, of course
– English
– French
– German
– Latin
– Spanish
– Japanese
– Russian
– Norwegian
– Hebrew
– Greek

Fun fact: most of the words i know in all the languages aside for Italian and English are insults and/or swearwords. Yes, including Latin

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Somewhere between 0 and 5 gazillion.

Brian1946's avatar

English: I can’t think of any exemplary words now, but I’ll try to post one later.
Spanish: Mi esposa- my wife.
French: Je ne parle pas français- I don’t speak no French ;-p
Nepali: Lho tse- south peak.
Tibetan: Chomolungma- Holy Mother.
Russian: Spasiba- feminine form of “thank you”, phonetically using the modern English alphabet.
German: Donkeyshame- thank you. ;-p
Japanese: Sayonara- “good bye”, phonetically using the modern English alphabet.
Thai: Khob khun- “thank you”, phonetically using the modern English alphabet.
Hindi: Dhanyavad- thank you.
Dutch: Graag gedaan- you’re welcome.
Latin: Caveat emptor- buyer beware.

Those are 12.

DominicX's avatar

A lot. Off the top of my head I know at least one word in English (cat), French (monde), Spanish (cerro), Italian (ragazzo), German (Schuh), Romanian (acum), Russian (pravoslavnje), Serbian (vodi), Czech (mladence), Croatian (sve), Polish (sokoly), Latin (forfex), Greek (ouketi), Turkish (gelebileceksin), Chinese (ziji), Japanese (fukikakeru), Arabic (dawlat), Swedish (hander), Norwegian (jeg), Anglo-Saxon (hwaet), Chamorro (taitai), Quechua (ch’arki), Nahuatl (tzatecomatl), Dyirbal (yuri), Tok Pisin (bilong), Swahili (kizito), Hungarian (szall), Latvian (vairs), Lithuanian (laikas), Irish (siuil), Sanskrit (agnibhyas), Thai (anachak), Vietnamese (anh), Georgian (tkven), Hindi (mehboob), Faliscan (foied), Uzbek (deniz), Uyghur (qaqigha)...can’t think of anymore…so that’s 38. :P

I’m disappointed to say I cannot name anything in Amharic, Tigrinya, Lao, Malay, Farsi, Pashto…but I plan on being able to :)

zenvelo's avatar

Off the top of my head I counted fifteen. A couple of them are dishes.

My son, in an act of defiance, wouldn’t do his homework or study in Spanish. I told him he should be able to get a C just by living in Northern California and having it all around him.

Berserker's avatar

Not much…for some reason I know the word cat and devil in a few languages; chat, gato, neko. Diable, diablo, akuma, djevelen.
All I gots to say, we need @fundevogel in here to teach us all cool Scandinavian cussing.

downtide's avatar

I am hopeless with languages, but it turns out to be more than I thought:
Besides English (obviously):
French, German, Spanish, Welsh, Irish (Gaelic), Japanese, Italian (mostly food items), Greek (also mostly food items), Latin, Russian, Dutch, Czech.

snapdragon24's avatar

Hmmmm lets see:

Kalimera – greek
Ciao bello aragazzo – Italian
Dovizenia – polish
Spasiba – russian
Ezaiek habibi – Egyptian
Toda raba – Hebrew
Baka – Japanese
Ohama – chinese
Ich has – german
Allas gut – luxembourgish
I dashur – albanian
Tista – swedish
Pichu – czeck
Ola che que tal – spanish

And im pretty much fluent in French and Portuguese :)

OpryLeigh's avatar

Chinese (Ok, so that one word I know in Chinese is boob, still a word!)

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I’m curious. When you all say “Chinese”, what particular Chinese are you talking about? There are many Chinese dialects (e.g. mandarin), it’s pretty vague when someone says they speak/know “Chinese”.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Michael_Huntington I don’t know, I learnt my “Chinese” word from my friends Chinese housemate but I didn’t ask her what dialect it was.

cazzie's avatar

Oh… just ONE word? That seems odd.

DominicX's avatar

@Michael_Huntington Most people probably mean Mandarin, which is what I meant when I wrote “Chinese”. Actually, most linguists consider Mandarin, Wu, Cantonese, etc. separate languages since they are mutually unintelligible with one another.

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