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Q: World record for speaking most foreign languages? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: World record for speaking most foreign languages?
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: rsmyers-ga
List Price: $10.50
Posted: 06 Nov 2003 18:38 PST
Expires: 06 Dec 2003 18:38 PST
Question ID: 273399
What is the world record for a person speaking the most foreign languages?
Subject: Re: World record for speaking most foreign languages?
Answered By: bobbie7-ga on 06 Nov 2003 20:57 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
The Guinness Book of Records lists Harold Williams as the world?s
greatest linguist, speaking 58 languages. He was born in Christchurch
on April 6, 1876 and died November 18, 1928.

?New Zealander Harold Williams was listed by the Guinness Book of
Records as the world?s greatest linguist. He is said to have spoken
over 58 languages fluently as well as some of their dialects ?
Swahili, Hausa and Zulu among them. This amazing polygot was said to
"read grammars as others read detective stories". He was the foreign
editor of The Times; described as the "the most brilliant foreign
correspondent" his generation had known, he "knew everyone and
everything ? and was always at the point of greatest interest and

The New Zealand Edge


Harold Williams 

?The Guinness Book of Records lists him as the world's greatest
linguist. Harold Williams spoke almost sixty languages fluently. He
was born in Christchurch and moved to Russia in 1904 to work as a
journalist. During the First World War and the Russian Revolution he
was seen as "the most brilliant foreign correspondent" of his time.
After the war he became Foreign Editor for the Times in London.? Knowledge Resources,2210,105804-181-187,00.html


Harold Williams ?is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the
world's greatest linguist, said to have spoken over 58 languages
fluently. He was foreign editor of The Times, "the most brilliant
foreign correspondent" his generation had known.?

Virtual New Zealand


According to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, the world?s greatest *living*
polyglot is Ziad Fazah, who speaks 56 languages.

?A multilingual person or polyglot is the name for a person with a
high degree of proficiency in several languages.?

?The world greatest living polyglot is Ziad Fazah (born 1954) who
apart from his mother tongue Arabic is reported to speak 55 other
languages. Calculations as to how many languages now-dead polyglots
spoke is difficult, since no one can offer a objective description of
what is required to "know a language" fluently, but the greatest
linguist in history is believed to be cardinal Giuseppe Gaspardo
Mezzofanti (1774-1849), who is reported to have spoken up to a hundred
languages fluently.?

Source: Wikipedia


?Ziad Fazah, who has been living in Brazil for 21 years, is fluent in
56 languages, winning him a mention in the Brazilian edition of the
"Guinness World Book of Records" as the world's greatest living


A portuguese article dated January 22, 2003 mentions that Ziad Fazah
is listed in the Guinness book of records for speaking 58 languages.

?professor Ziad Fazah, 48 anos,.. esse libanÍs naturalizado
brasileiro, poliglota que figura no Guiness Book por falar 58 idiomas?


Search Criteria:
World?s greatest linguist
"World record" polyglot "* languages"
World?s greatest polyglot OR linguist

I hope you find this helpful! If anything is unclear with my answer,
please ask for clarification.

Best regards,
rsmyers-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Just what I was looking for--thanks.  Now for a real research project
you could track down a videotaped copy of one of the "tests" that he
did on TV.  Just let me know how much it will cost me....

Subject: Re: World record for speaking most foreign languages?
From: amalik-ga on 06 Nov 2003 22:04 PST
I always thought it was one of these three men - all linguists.

To give an idea of the number of languages they had to know in the
course of their scholarship, I've included some links to Greenberg as
there is a great deal of information available about his scholarship
on the web.  I have no idea how you could select between them, or
other scholars in the field of linguistics.  Or what it means to speak
the most number of languages versus speaking fluently.

Vladislav Illich-Svitych 
Aharon Dolgopolsky 

Joseph Greenberg, Historical Linguist

Dr. Greenberg's major works include his classification of the 1,500
languages of Africa into four superfamilies, a work published in 1955;
"Language in the Americas" (1987), in which he assigned the 650 native
languages of North and South America to just three groups; and a study
of Eurasiatic, the inferred ancestral tongue of a swath of languages
from Japanese to Portuguese, the first volume of which appeared last
Subject: Re: World record for speaking most foreign languages?
From: bobbie7-ga on 07 Nov 2003 09:41 PST
Thank you for the five star rating!

I haven't found a videotaped copy of any of his "tests" on TV. If I
come across anything I will let you know.


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