Harmony of Babel

Harmony of Babel: profiles of famous polyglots of Europe
by Kató Lomb. translated from the Hungarian by Ádám Szegi, edited by Scott Alkir.
Berkeley; Kyoto: TESL-EJ Publications, 2013.

It should be no surprise that this is a Hungarian work. Hungary is not only linguistically isolated from Europe but for a large chunk of the 20th century it was the de facto cultural capital of the Esperanto movement.

Esperanto is mentioned by several interviewees. But see also especially the section "Does Latin have a present? Will Esperanto have a future?".


The Sun Is Shining 7

Polyglots: Old and New 11

Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti (1774 –1849) 19
Sándor Kőrösi Csoma (1784 –1842) 47
Rasmus Christian Rask (1787–1832) 51
Heinrich Schliemann (1822–1890) 52
Ármin Vámbéry (1832–1913) 57
Alexander Lenard (1910 –1972) 64
What Is the Good Language Learner Like? 69

An Imaginary Report on a Round Table of Polyglots 81
Introducing the participants 83
When can we say we know a language? 139
Which is the most important language skill:
     grammar, vocabulary, or good pronunciation? 148
What method did you use to learn languages? 153
Has it ever happened to you that you started
     learning a language, but could not cope with it? 162
What connection do you see between age and language learning?
Is your knowledge decreasing with age? 164
Does Latin have a present? Will Esperanto have a future? 169
Are there “easy” and “difficult,” “rich” and “poor,” “beautiful”
     and “less beautiful” languages? 179
What is multilingualism good for? 188
Why Is Language Instruction Ailing in Hungary? 197

Selected References 213

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