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polyglot is a person with a command of many languages.[1] A polyglot may also be called a multilingual person; the label "multilingual" is used for communities as well as individual speakers.

Richard Hudson, professor emeritus of linguistics at University College London, coined the term "hyperpolyglot" for a person who can speak twelve or more languages fluently.[2][3] Other scholars apply the label to speakers of even more languages: twelve, sixteen, or in the most extreme cases, even fifty or more.[4]

It is difficult to judge which individuals are polyglots, as there is no uncontroversial definition for what it means to "master" a language, and because it is not always clear where to distinguish a dialect from a language. Being able to communicate in a language does not mean the person has "mastered" a language. There are far fewer who have attained higher levels of multi-linguistic attainment, and there is no basis for testing those levels, or at least those levels of ability have not been noted here.

This list consists of people who have been noted in news media, historical texts, or academic work as speaking six or more languages fluently. For general discussion of the phenomenon, including discussion of polyglot savants, see polyglotism.

 

The 2012 book Babel No More[5] by Michael Erard highlights some polyglots around the globe, including Alexander Argüelles. Canada's Global TV also brought out a piece on hyperpolyglots on their 16x9 show, entitled "Word Play",[6] featuring Canadian polyglots Axel Van Hout, Alexandre Coutu, Steve Kaufmann, James Chang and Keith Swayne. Tim Doner (US) and Richard Simcott (UK) also appear in the programme to describe their experiences speaking multiple languages.

Africa[edit]

The Americas[edit]

  • Alexander Argüelles is an American polyglot. He speaks around a dozen languages and has a reading knowledge of many more. He was profiled in Michael Erard's Babel No More.[9]
  • Powell Janulus (born 1939) is a notable living polyglot, also known as "the most fluent person on earth." In 1985, Powell Janulus was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for fluency in forty-two languages.
  • Timothy Doner, then a seventeen-year-old New York City-based student, was featured in the New York Times for his ability to speak over twenty languages to various levels, including English, French, Hausa, Wolof, Russian, German, Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic, Pashto, Persian, Mandarin, Turkish, Indonesian, Dutch, Xhosa, Kiswahili, Hindi, Ojibwe, Kinyarwanda, and Creole.[10]
  • Melania Trump (Melania Knauss), Slovene-American former model and the current First Lady of the United States. She speaks English, French, Italian, German, Serbo-Croatian and her native Slovene.[11]
  • Henry Lau is a Canadian singer, rapper, dancer, composer, record producer, beatboxer, actor and entertainer mostly active in South Korea. He is quintilingual. Aside from speaking native English, Lau is also fluent in MandarinKorean, French and Cantonese.[12]

Asia[edit]

  • Shoichi Funaki is a professional wrestler. He is fluent in Japanese, English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.
  • Jackson Wang is a Chinese singer, rapper and dancer from Hong Kong and a member of Got7 (kpop boy group under JYP Entertainment). He speaks Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, English, Shanghainese, Japanese and basic French.[13]
  • Asin is an Indian actress who can speak Malayalam (her mother-tongue), Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, English, Sanskrit, and French. She speaks some Marathi, Italian, Spanish and German.[14]
  • Ambassador Naela Chohan is a polyglot, feminist artist, and current Ambassador of Pakistan to Australia and former Ambassador of Pakistan for Latin America. She is fluent in 7 Indo-European languages: English, French, Bengali, Urdu, Punjabi, Persian (acquired at age 35), and Spanish (acquired at age 51).
  • George Fernandes, an Indian politician who is well-versed in ten languages: Konkani, English, Hindi, Tulu, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Malayalam and Latin.[15]
  • Janet Hsieh, Taiwanese-American television personality, violinist, author, and model. She is fluent in English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Taiwanese.[16]
  • Lokesh Chandra, one of the world's foremost scholars of Buddhism, the Indian researcher is described as "a polyglot and knows Pali, Avesta, Old Persian, Japanese, Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Indonesian, Greek, Latin, German, French and Russian besides Hindi, Sanskrit and English."[17]
  • Cardinal Malcolm RanjithArchbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, a Sri Lankan Catholic prelate, is fluent in 11 languages: SinhalaTamilEnglish, (the 3 official languages of Sri Lanka), GermanFrenchSpanishItalianLatinGreekHebrew, and Bahasa Indonesia.[18]
  • Mickey Curtis, a Japanese actor, singer, and television celebrity born to Japanese-English parents. He speaks Japanese, English, French, German, Italian and Thai.[19]
  • Kamal Haasan, an Indian actor who can speak Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam and English.[20]
  • Péter Frankl, juggler and mathematician, speaks twelve languages (English, Russian, Swedish, French, Spanish, Polish, German, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean).
  • Prakash Raj is an Indian actor who can speak Tulu (his mother tongue), Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Hindi and Malayalam.[21]
  • Priya Anand, an Indian actress who can speak Tamil, Telugu, English, Bengali, Hindi, Marathi and Spanish languages.[22]
  • R. Sarathkumar, an Indian actor who can speak Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi, Russian and English fluently.[23]
  • Rajinikanth, an Indian actor who can speak Marathi (his mother tongue), Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, and English fluently.[23]
  • Swami Rambhadracharya, a Hindu religious leader and Sanskrit scholar based in ChitrakootIndia, can speak twenty-two languages, including Sanskrit, Hindi, English, French, BhojpuriMaithiliOriyaGujaratiPunjabiMarathiMagadhiAwadhi, and Braj. Rambhadracharya has been blind since the age of two months and received no formal education until the age of seventeen. He has never used braille, or any other aid, to learn or compose his works and has authored more than 100 books.[24][25][26]
  • Suman Pokhrel, a Nepali poet who speaks Nepali, English, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Maithili.
  • Abin Shrestha, a Nepali scholar who can speak Nepali, Newari, English, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Spanish.
  • Ling Tan, Malaysian supermodel, speaks four varieties of ChineseMalay, and English[27]

Europe[edit]

  • Carlos Yebra López is a Spanish philosopher and linguist who speaks and writes in ten languages, including Arabic, Serbian, German, Italian, Portuguese, French, English, Diasporic Judeo-Iberian, Catalan and Spanish.

Notable deceased reputed polyglots[edit]

The following list consists of deceased individuals who are associated with claims of polyglotism, by year of birth.

  • Mithridates VI of Pontus (134–63 BC) could supposedly speak the languages of all twenty-two nations within his kingdom.[58]
  • Cleopatra VII (69–30 BC), the last ruling Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, could, according to the Roman biographer Plutarch, speak nine languages and was the only member of her dynasty who could speak Egyptian as well as her native Greek.[59]
  • al-Farabi (872–950/951), a Persian polymath who mastered over seventy languages.[60]
  • Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera (1408–1491)[61] was a Buddhist monk and an eminent scholar,[62] who lived in the fifteenth century in Sri Lanka.[63] He was a multi-linguist who was given the title "Shad Bhasha Parameshwara" due to his mastery in six oriental languages which prevailed in the Indian subcontinent.[64]
  • Elizabeth I of England (1533–1603 AD) could speak ten languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Latin, Welsh, Cornish, Scottish and Irish. The Venetian Ambassador once said: "it is as if she possessed these languages as if they were her mother tongue"
  • Athanasius Kircher (1601?–1680), German Jesuit polymath and scholar. Claimed knowledge of twelve languages; among them: LatinGreekHebrewAramaicSyriacCoptic, as well as several modern languages. He also pioneered the study of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Classical Chinese characters.[citation needed]
  • John Milton (1608–1674), an English poet who is famous for the epic work Paradise Lost, could speak English, Latin, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Aramaic, Syriac, and Old English. Milton coined 630 terms in the English language.[65]
  • Wojciech Bobowski or Ali Ufki (1610–1675) a Polish musician based in the Ottoman Empire who mastered sixteen languages.
  • Gavril Stefanović Venclović (1670–1749) was a Serbian priest, writer, poet, orator, philosopher, polyglot, and illuminator.
  • Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718-1799) was an Italian mathematician, philosopher, theologian and humanitarian. Agnecy was known as "the seven language orator" already in her childhood, since she was fluent with Italian, French, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, German and Latin.
  • Adam František Kollár (1718–1783), a Slovak writer, spoke Slovak, Czech, Serbian, Polish, Rusin, Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, German, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Turkish, Chinese, Persian, Arabic, Italian, Romanian, French, Dutch, and English.[66]
  • Sir William Jones (1746–1794), an Anglo-Welsh philologist known for founding comparative linguistics through proposing the existence of a relationship between European and Indian languages (the Indo-European Languages). Alongside his native English and Welsh languages, he learned GreekLatinPersianArabicHebrew and the basics of Chinese writing at an early age. In all, Jones could speak forty-one languages (at least thirteen fluently).[67][68]
  • Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832), a French classical scholar, philologist, and orientalist, was the first to decipher the inscription on the Rosetta Stone, an achievement that facilitated the translation of the Egyptian Hieroglyphs—the titles "Father of Egyptology"[69] and "the founder of scientific Egyptology" have since been bestowed upon Champollion.[70] He specialized in Oriental languages while he was a student at the College de France between 1807 and 1809, and his linguistic repertoire eventually consisted of LatinGreek, Sanskrit, Pahlavi, Arabic, Persian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Zend, and his native French.[69][70][71]
  • Matija Čop (1797–1835) was a Slovenian polymath and linguist, and was said to speak nineteen languages, among which were his native Slovene, Latin, ancient Greek, German, English, French, Italian, Serbian, Polish, Ukrainian, Czech, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Hungarian, Occitan and Hebrew.
  • Noah Webster (1758–1843), a lexicographerEnglish spelling reformer, and author, mastered twenty-three languages.[citation needed]
  • Giuseppe Caspar Mezzofanti (1774–1849), an Italian Cardinal, knew the following thirty-nine languages, speaking many fluently and teaching some:[72] Biblical Hebrew, Rabbinical Hebrew, Arabic, Coptic, Ancient Armenian, Modern Armenian, Persian, Turkish, Albanian, Maltese, Ancient Greek, Modern Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, English, Illyrian, Russian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Chinese, Syriac, Ge'ez, Hindustani, Amharic, Gujarati, Basque, Romanian, and Algonquin.
  • John Bowring (1792–1872), an English political economist, traveler, writer, and the fourth governor of Hong Kong. Reputed to have known over two hundred languages, and to have had varying speaking ability in one hundred.
  • Jan Prosper Witkiewicz (known as: Yan Vitkevich)(1808-1839) a Polish orientalist, explorer and diplomat in the Russian service, agent of Russia at Kabul just before the First Anglo-Afghan War a part of the Great Game. He knew 19 languages i.e.: Polish, Russian, French, German and English. In exile he learned Persian, Pashto and several Turkic languages, memorized the Qur'an in Arabic.[73]
  • Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), a German-English industrialist, social scientist, and cofounder of Marxist theory alongside Karl Marx, mastered over twenty languages.[74]
  • Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890) was a British explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalistcartographerethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat; his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures amounted to having "mastered at least twenty-five languages—or forty, if distinct dialects are counted."[75]
  • Heinrich Schliemann (1822–1890) was a German businessman and a pioneer of field archaeology. He was an advocate of the historical reality of places mentioned in the works of Homer. Schliemann was an archaeological excavator of Hissarlik, now presumed to be the site of Troy, along with the Mycenaean sites Mycenae and Tiryns. Mastered over fifteen languages.
  • Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil (1825 – 1891) had a deep interest in many different arts and sciences. His passion for linguistics prompted lifelong studies of new languages, and he was able to speak and write not only his native Portuguese but also LatinFrenchGermanEnglishItalianSpanishGreekArabicHebrewSanskritChineseOccitan and Tupi.[76]
  • Georg Sauerwein (1831–1904) was a German publisher, polyglot, poet, and linguist. Sauerwein mastered about seventy-five languages, including: Latin, ancient Greek, modern Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian, Spanish, Basque, Portuguese, English, Welsh, Cornish, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx Gaelic, Dutch, Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Sami, Finnish, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Sorbian, Serbian, Croatian, Hungarian, Romanian, Albanian, Turkish, Azerbaijani, Chuvash (a Turkic language), Tamil, Kashgar (spoken in Siberia, similar to the language of Uzbekistan), Kumyk (spoken in Siberia), Persian, Armenian, Georgian, Sanskrit, Romani, Hindustani, Ethiopian, Tigrinya (another language of Ethiopia), Coptic or ancient Egyptian, Arabic, Malagasy (the language of Madagascar), Malay, Samoan, Hawaiian, different dialects of Chinese, and Aneitum (a language spoken in the New Hebrides).
  • James Augustus Henry Murray (1837–1915), was a Scottish lexicographer, instrumental in the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, and its primary editor from 1879 until his death. In an application letter written to the British Museum Library in November 1866, he claimed abilities in Italian, French, Catalan, Spanish, and Latin, and "in a less degree" Portuguese, Provençal, Dutch, German, Flemish, and Danish. The letter also referred to Murray's study of Celtic, Russian, Persian, Hebrew, and Syriac, among other languages and dialects.[77]
  • Yaqub Sanu (1839–1912), Egyptian journalist.
  • Hagop Baronian, (1843-1891), notable Armenian writer and playwright. He was fluent in 6 languages including FrenchItalianGreekTurkishBulgarian and his native Armenian
  • Chiragh Ali (1844–1895), an Islamic scholar who, apart from his native Urdu, mastered PersianArabicEnglishFrenchHebrewAramaicLatin and Greek.[78]
  • Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891) French Symbolist poet. After retiring from writing he went on ambitious language learning program while traveling around Europe and the Middle East; mastering Latin, Ancient and Modern Greek, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Dutch, Arabic, Hindi, Amharic,[79] as well as developing a working knowledge of several native African languages while living in Ethiopia.[80]
  • Nikola Tesla (1856–1943), Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist, best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Read and memorized the entirety of many books, and was capable of speaking eight languages: Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin.[81]
  • Robert Dick Wilson (1856–1930), American Bible scholar, spoke forty-five languages including HebrewAramaic, and Greek, as well as all the languages into which the Scriptures had been translated up to 600 CE.
  • Ludwig Zamenhof (1859–1917), creator of the constructed language Esperanto, spoke eleven languages besides his own: AramaicEnglishFrenchGermanGreekHebrewLatinPolishVolapük, and his native Russian and Yiddish. He also had an interest in ArabicItalian, and Lithuanian, though he never claimed fluency in those.[citation needed]
  • José Rizal (1861–1896), was a Filipino nationalist, writer and revolutionary. He was able to speak twenty-two languages including SpanishFrenchLatinGreekGermanPortugueseItalianEnglishDutch, and Japanese. Rizal also made translations from ArabicSwedishRussianChinese, Greek, Hebrew and Sanskrit. He translated the poetry of Schiller into his native Tagalog. In addition, he had at least some knowledge of Malay, and some other Philippine languages like ChavacanoCebuanoIlocano, and Subanon.[82][83][84]
  • Minakata Kumagusu (1867–1941), a Japanese author, biologist and naturalist.
  • Emil Krebs (1867-1930) was a German polyglot and sinologist. He mastered sixty-eight languages in speech and writing, and studied 120 others.
  • Rıza Tevfik Bölükbaşı (1869–1949), a Turkish philosopher and politician, who "...was proficient in eight languages, including ArabicEnglishFrenchGermanItalianLatinPersian, and Spanish"[85] in addition to HebrewAlbanian and Armenian.[86]
  • Ahatanhel Krymsky (1871–1942), a Ukrainian orientalist and linguist; was an expert in up to 34 languages.[87]
  • Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950), an Indian philosopher who, apart from his native Bengali and educational English, knew ancient GreekLatinFrenchGermanItalianSpanish and other Indian languages like SanskritHindiMarathi and Gujarati.[88]
  • Harold Williams (1876–1928), a New Zealand journalist and linguist, spoke more than fifty-eight languages.[89]
  • Hrachia Adjarian (1876–1953), Armenian linguist. He spoke Armenian, Greek, Hebrew, French, English, German, Italian, Persian, Latin, Sanskrit, and Laz.[90]
  • Sir Mohammed Iqbal (1877-1938) perhaps one of the greatest poets of the Persian language. Among his work of poetry, Asrar-e-Khudi, appeared in the Persian language in 1915, and other books of poetry include Rumuz-i-BekhudiPayam-i-Mashriq and Zabur-i-Ajam. Amongst these his best known Urdu works are Bang-i-DaraBal-i-JibrilZarb-i Kalim and a part of Armughan-e-Hijaz. Mohammed Iqbal was fluent in PersianPanjabiArabicHindiLatinGreek and English.
  • Martin Buber (1878–1965), Austrian Jewish philosopher, who "spoke German, Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, English, French and Italian and read, in addition to these, Spanish, Latin, Greek, Dutch and other languages".[91]
  • Subramania Bharati (1882-1921), a great Tamil poet, learnt 32 languages (29 Indian languages and 3 foreign languages) including Tamil, English, Hindi, Sanskrit and Bengali.
  • Ho Chi Minh (1890–1969), the Vietnamese Communist leader, became fluent in French, English, Russian, Cantonese, and Mandarin, in addition to his native Vietnamese, through study and many years spent in exile.[92]
  • Harinath De (1877–1911) could speak thirty-four languages including many eastern and western languages such as Chinese, Tibetan, Pali, Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, English, Greek, Latin, out of which he was M.A in fourteen.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973), English writer, poet, linguist and university professor who could speak thirty-five languages[citation needed] and constructed several fictional ones. The most developed of these are Quenya and Sindarin, which he used in his books The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. He used his understanding in language to correct translators and translations of his books in other languages.
  • Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan (1893–1963) could speak thirty-six languages and wrote in more than six.[93]
  • William James Sidis (1898–1944), an American child prodigy who knew eight languages (LatinGreekGermanFrenchRussianHebrewTurkish and Armenian) when eight years old and claimed to speak about forty languages shortly before his death. He also created his own artificial language, which was called Vendergood. Although Sidis was supposed to have an IQ between 250 and 300 measured through psychological analysis, this was never confirmed.[94]
  • Andrzej Gawroński (1885-1927) was a Polish indologist, linguist and polyglot, the author of the first Polish handbook of Sanskrit, founder of Polish Oriental Society who was able to speak more than 40 languages and studied 100 others [95]
  • Agop DilâçarTurkish-Armenian linguist who was proficient in 22 languages.
  • Shuddhananda Bharati (1897-1990), an Indian revolutionary turned mystic author who wrote "over 250 published works, 173 are in Tamil, fifty in English, six in French, four in Hindi and three in Telugu. Apart from these languages, he was also conversant with SanskritKannadaMalayalam and Urdu."[96]
  • Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977) claimed to be trilingual "in the proper sense of writing, not only speaking, three languages". He wrote in English, Russian, and French.[97]
  • Sukarno (1901–1970), the first President of Indonesia, was able to speak JavaneseSundaneseBalineseIndonesian, Dutch, German, English, French, Arabic, and Japanese.[98]
  • Steven Runciman (1903–2000), historian. Able to read Latin and Greek by the age of five, he mastered many languages so that, when writing about the Middle East, he was able to rely not only on accounts in Latin and Greek and the Western vernaculars, but on Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Hebrew, Syriac, Armenian and Georgian sources as well.[99][100]
  • John von Neumann (1903–1957), mathematician. While better known for his work in mathematics, Von Neumann was a polyglot; fluent in FrenchGermanLatinGreekEnglish and Yiddish, as well as his native Hungarian.[citation needed]
  • Antoun Saadeh (1904-1949) a Lebanese philosopher and figure of Syrian nationalism who was fluent in 7 languages : ArabicEnglishPortugueseFrenchGermanSpanish and Russian.[101]
  • Syed Mujtaba Ali (1904-1974), a Bangladeshi author proficient in 15 languages.
  • S. Srikanta Sastri (1904–1974), eminent Indian Historian, Indologist, and epigraphist at the University of Mysore, was fluent in over fourteen languages, including Greek, Latin, Hittite, Sanskrit, Pali, and Prakrit.[102][103]
  • Nathan Leopold Jr. (1904–1971) was born to a wealthy Jewish family. He spoke his first words at four months. He reportedly had an intelligence quotient of 210, and claimed to have been able to speak twenty-seven languages by the time he was nineteen.[104] More likely he was only fluent in nine or ten languages.[105] He was involved in the murder of Robert "Bobby" Franks with friend Richard Loeb. He served thirty-three years in prison before receiving parole.
  • João Guimarães Rosa (1908–1967) was a Brazilian writer, considered by many to be one of the greatest Brazilian novelists born in the 20th century, and a self-taught polyglot. In a letter he claimed to speak PortugueseGerman, French, English, Spanish, Italian, Esperanto, and some Russian. He also claimed to read SwedishDutch, Latin and Greek, but with the use of a dictionary. He also professed some understanding of German dialects, and study of Hungarian, Arabic, Sanskrit, LithuanianPolishTupiHebrew, Japanese, CzechFinnish, and Danish grammar. Guimarães Rosa suggested that studying other languages helped him understand the national language of Brazil more deeply, but that he studied primarily for pleasure.[106]
  • Muhammad Hamidullah (1908–2002), an Islamic scholar, knew twenty-two languages and learned Thai at eighty-five.
  • Uku Masing (1909–1985), an Estonian linguist, theologian, ethnologist, and poet, claimed to know approximately sixty-five languages, and could translate twenty.[107]
  • Kató Lomb (1909–2003), a Hungarian interpreter, translator, and one of the first simultaneous interpreters in the world, was able to interpret fluently in ten languages.[108]
  • George Campbell (1912–2004), a Scottish polyglot and a linguist at the BBC, who could speak and write fluently in at least forty-four languages and had a working knowledge of perhaps twenty others.[109]
  • Meredith Gardner (1912–2002), an American linguist and codebreaker. German, Old High German, Middle High German, Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, Lithuanian, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, and Japanese.[110]
  • Enoch Powell (1912–1998), an English politician, classical scholar, linguist, and poet. English, French, German, Italian, Urdu, Modern Greek, Classical Greek, Latin, Welsh, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Hebrew.[111]
  • Aziz Ahmad (1914-1978), a Pakistani poet, short story writer, novelist, translator, historian, research scholar, Iqbal scholar and critic fluent in UrduEnglishFrenchGermanArabicPersianItalian and Turkish.[112]
  • Toshihiko Izutsu (1914-1993), a Japanese scholar of Islam proficient in 30 languages.
  • Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch (1917-2011), a Pakistani scholar who "has written in seven languages — SindhiArabicUrduEnglishPersianBalochi and Seraiki."[113]
  • Shūichi Katō, a Japanese scholar who was fluent in EnglishFrenchGermanItalian and Chinese.[114]
  • Fazlur Rahman Malik (1919-1988), a Pakistani scholar of Islam, proficient in UrduPersianArabicEnglishclassical GreekLatinGerman and French.[115]
  • Pope John Paul II (1920-2005), could speak many languages but reportedly was only fluent in Polish, Italian, Spanish, French, German, and Latin.[116]
  • Ahmad Hasan Dani (1920–2009), a Pakistani intellectual, archaeologist, historian, and linguist, who mastered thirty-five languages.
  • Sahabzada Yaqub Khan (1920-2016), a Pakistani diplomat and army general who could "speak, read and write somewhere between 6 and 10 languages."[117]
  • Abdul Shakoor Rashad (1921-2004), Afghan scholar, who mastered a dozen of languages outside his native Pashto.
  • P. V. Narasimha Rao (1921–2004), who served as the tenth Prime Minister of India (1991–1996), could fluently speak seven Indian languages TeluguMarathiHindiUrduOriyaTamil and Bengali and six Foreign languages EnglishFrenchGermanSpanishArabic, and Persian.[118]
  • Jayalalithaa (1948-2016), an Indian politician and actress, who could fluently speak Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam and English.
  • Christopher Lee (1922–2015), English actor, singer, author, and World War II veteran who spoke fluent English, Italian, French, Spanish and German, and was moderately proficient in Swedish, Russian and Greek.[119]
  • Michael Ventris (1922–1956), an English linguist and architect. French, German, Swiss German, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Danish, Italian, Spanish, some Turkish, and Modern Greek.[120]
  • P. B. Sreenivas (1930–2013), an Indian singer and poet, spoke and wrote in eight languages, including Kannada, English and Urdu.[121]
  • Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou (1930–1989), a Kurdish political activist and economist, mastered eight languages that included his mother tongue.[122][123][124]
  • Jon Elia (1931-2002), a Pakistani poet and scholar who was fluent in UrduEnglishArabicPersianSanskrit and Hebrew.
  • Thomas Joseph Odhiambo "Tom" Mboya, (1930 – 1969) a Kenyan trade unionist, educationist, Pan Africanist, author, and politician could speak English as well as several Kenyan languages such as KiKamba, Kikuyu and his mother tongue DhoLuo.
  • Hassan al-Turabi (1932–2016), a Sudanese Islamist leader, was fluent in Arabic, English, French, German, and many European languages.[125]
  • Kenneth L. Hale (1934–2001) was an American professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He spoke over fifty languages, including Basque, Dutch, French, HopiIrish GaelicJapaneseJemezLardilNavajoO'odham, Polish, Spanish, Warlpiri, and Wômpanâak.[126][127]
  • Sergei Starostin (1953–2005), a Russian linguist, recognised as one of the creators of hypothetical Sino-Caucasian language family. He claimed to have known up to fifteen languages and to read forty without a dictionary.[128]
  • Shahab Ahmed (1966–2015), a university professor and scholar of Islam from Pakistan who was "master of perhaps 15 languages".[129]
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