Saturday, October 22, 2011

Female polyglots

For some reason someone decided to start bringing in gender in discussion. Why are there so few female polyglots?

Women are not more talented in anything than men are. That's just as chauvinist an idea as that men were more talented than women in anything. Pure sow chauvinism.
Just like it's hog chauvinism to say women are muddleheaded and cannot keep the languages separated.

I don't know if women are more interested in languages than men are... Might be. Then also, might not. I would say, the interest is different and for different reasons. You can't take the fact that girls study more languages in school, than boys, as any sign of this. There are several reasons to why this happens.
What can be used as an indication is what people do on their free time. There are vast resources available online, and all you need to learn a lot of languages is internet access. Libraries are also just as open for women as they are for men, and bookstores sell books to both men and women alike. Women can't blame the patriarchaic society for not learning languages. There's plenty of resources available, if there only is interest...  so I wonder if the women ARE more interested in languages than men. Frankly, I doubt that.

I have Asperger's so I'm not your typical female, but I want to learn languages because I love languages. I love linguistics and philology, I love word lists, I love grammar, I love the fact how people can take some 20-40 phonemes and produce such magical, complex worlds like... all the books, novels, stories and tales in the world... how you can with a couple of words create so vivid pictures that people, in different world, time, life, can read those words and see what you wanted to show them... My husband sees languages as tools, a way of communication, like Benny does. (Which is what makes me believe that Benny has ADHD). None of this has anything to do with your gender.

I have a blog about languages, because I want to write about what I love, because you might be interested in the things I have found, and because you might find something useful in my experiences. I don't do this to brag, because there's always someone who's better, quicker, knows more and is more fluent with the languages... besides. I don't SPEAK if I can avoid it. brr.
And if you look at the other polyglot blogs... Benny doesn't do it to brag. He does it to encourage others to do it too. He even says "if I can do it, so can you". That's not bragging. That's being generous and helpful, which are generally approved qualities, so a woman cannot even say that "it's not expected of me, I can't go on bragging about me and my skills, it's not womanly..." or the other crap I have heard as explanation to why there are fewer blogs and vlogs by female polyglots. If there's a will, there's a way. So if there are no female polyglot bloggers around, it's because there are no female polyglotters interested in blogging around.

Nevertheless - WHAT THE HECK DOES IT MATTER WHAT I HAVE BETWEEN MY LEGS? I really, sincerely thought when it comes to languages it's only what I have between my ears that matter. I am offended by the sexism of the person who even came to think about this question.

I started studying languages in 1978, in Finland. I only knew Finnish. My resources and possibilities were EXTREMELY limited.

My first foreign language was English. I have been studying it in one form or another since then.
My second foreign, and also second domestic language was Swedish - officially. That I started studying 1982. I use it every day as I live in Sweden.
My third language - officially - was German.
My fourth language was French.
I have studied also
- Spanish
- Italian
- Dutch
- Danish
- Icelandic
- Russian
- Arabic
- Japanese
- Hungarian
- Latin
- Greek
- Ivrit
- Swahili
Right now that's all I can remember... might be more. That is what I have had access to, through phrasebooks, textbooks, dictionaries and language courses. I have collected as much of any language I have been able to, which was not easy in the little town in Finland in 80's.
I really don't know why I didn't study languages much in the 90's... there were other things to do, I suppose.
But - now I'm into it again :-) I am fluent only in Finnish, English and Swedish.
I can't valuate the my knowledge of the rest, it's really difficult. Do you use vocabulary as a measurement, or how many words on a page you don't know? I know I'm satisfied with my Finnish, English and Swedish, the rest needs more or less work.

Now, are there any female polyglots? It depends on how you define a polyglot.

P.S. I really like the image stories give of Ken Hale . Now, they say most of those are very much exaggerated, and there are no such language savants as Hoshi Sato. I suppose she should be mentioned when talking about female polyglots. :-D
But here's a real life Polyglot who happens to be a woman; Kató Lomb. (Or was, as she's dead now.)

Couldn't get LeylaRandomness here, so go to YouTube to see her.

P.S. Are Women Really Better at Languages?
"Scientific literature has been littered with studies over the past 40 years documenting the superior language skills of girls, but the biological reason why has remained a mystery until now.
Researchers report in the journal Neuropsychologia that the answer lies in the way words are processed:
Girls completing a linguistic abilities task showed greater activity in brain areas implicated specifically in language encoding, which decipher information abstractly.
Boys, on the other hand, showed a lot of activity in regions tied to visual and auditory functions, depending on the way the words were presented during the exercise.
The finding suggests that although linguistic information goes directly to the seat of language processing in the female brain, males use sensory machinery to do a great deal of the work in untangling the data. In a classroom setting, it implies that boys need to be taught language both visually (with a textbook) and orally (through a lecture) to get a full grasp of the subject, whereas a girl may be able to pick up the concepts by either method."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Here comes my post again:

    The world of polyglots in the internet seems to be dominated by the guys, but for example on the HTLAL language forum you can find several female polyglots: Iwwersetzerin, Mae, Sprachprofi, Solfrid Cristin and me, Fasulye.

    Here is my blogwebsite:

    Kind regards,


  3. Hi, Fasulye! :-)
    I have your blog on my blog list already :-)
    Nice of you to come by mine :-)

    P.S. If any future reader wonders what HTLAL is, it's "How To Learn Any Language" and can be found here:

  4. Thank you for presenting my blog on your blog list. This of course insprired me to read around on your blogwebsite as well. Success with your language learning projects!


  5. Good Work.