Famous Polyglots and Their Stories of Success

Man at Library

Before we start telling you about incredible achievements of people who managed to master more than ten foreign languages, we would like to call your attention to one very significant fact and prove it by the experience of one of the writers who works for the blog on our website. So, the thing you should, or it is better to say you must always remember about is that, yes, you can and you will learn this language if you really want to. Write this idea down or print it on a sheet of paper in large letters and do not forget to put three exclamation marks in the end of the sentence.

Well, this is what our dear colleague always keeps saying to herself when she starts to learn another foreign language, as well as to her students. At present, she is teaching German and learning Korean (yes, partly because she really likes their doramas). She says, her teaching experience has shown her that a child (and, consequently, an adult) does not need to be a genius to learn a foreign tongue. Motivation is much more necessary for students’ success: they must understand why they do it. By the way, she also adds that it is not worth disregarding the reason for learning a language which children usually have: it is just interesting.

So, right, it should be at least interesting for you if you do not need this or that language for your education, career or whatever. Seriously, even this can help. And some of the stories, which you can find below, will prove that plain interest, seasoned with a small pinch of ambition, possesses a surprisingly great power. Now let us see how it works!

The Most Amazing Polyglots of All Times

Actually, a polyglot can be considered a person who can fluently speak three languages only. However, nothing is as simple as it seems. These three languages must refer to three different families. Well, languages also have families, so do not wonder so much. To set an example and make it easier for you to understand what we mean here, we shall name English, Korean and Russian– they belong to different language families. So, if you know someone who speaks them all well, tell this person that he or she is definitely a polyglot.

Nevertheless, we have prepared the stories of people who knew or know more than 10 tongues. That is going to be cool!


He Who Discovered Troy – Heinrich Schliemann (15 Languages)

He is well known as a German archeologist and businessman who managed to master 10 European languages, including Latin, plus such difficult languages as Arabic, Turkish and Russian. Greek helped him mush with his research and excavations.

The Author of “The Hobbit” and the World-Famous Trilogy – John Tolkien (35 Languages)

It can be claimed that such rich knowledge of many real languages helped Sir John Tolkien, who was, by the way, Professor of English Language and Literature, to invent languages of his widely-known characters. His arsenal included Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic and even Sanskrit.

Polyglot of the Guinness World Record – Ziad Fazah (58 Languages)

He is claimed to be the most famous polyglot of the 21st century! Although his gift is rather controversial as it was not proved by its possessor in “Viva el lunes” TV program in 1997 when he was asked questions by 58 native speakers, still it has become the world’s “language” record.