We’re all about languages here on Chinese Connects and we’re impressed by anyone who can speak many of them. There are many bilingual speakers in this world and many multi-linguists, all of which have dedicated themselves to perfecting more than one language. However, the people who impress us the most, and the people who deserve the most respect where languages are concerned, are polyglots.

A polyglot is someone who is able to speak multiple languages and is typically used to describe people who can speak a dozen of more, people who have dedicated their lives to languages.

Ziad Fazah

Liberian-born, Fazah was raised in Lebanon and classes himself as Lebanese. He is the current Guinness World Record holder for the person who speaks the most languages in the world, at a total of 58. However, it is debated whether he actually speaks and understands this many languages, as there have been multiple TV appearances where his talents have been tested and he has failed to understand simple phrases in languages he claims to know well. This includes a Chilean TV program where he was tested in Greek, Hindi, Russian, Chinese and other languages, failing to recognize beginner-level phrases in all of them.

Sir John Bowring

The former Governor of Hong Kong, Bowring was a many of many talents, by all accounts. It is reported that he could understand as many as 100 languages, although to what extent is not very clear. It is unlikely that he would be beyond beginner level in all of these languages and it is also very unlikely that this claim would have any basis in truth. However, Bowring was able to speak many languages, including Russian and Spanish, which came in handy during his career in politics and as a translator.

William James Sidis

A child prodigy, Sidis was reported to have taught himself eight different languages by the time he was just 8 years old. He even invented his own language, which he dubbed Vendergood. Sidis had an IQ that is said to be one of the highest ever recorded, and as a result of this and his many other mental capabilities he received a lot of attention from the general public. Unfortunately, it is that attention that drove him away from society, and he died a lonely death at the age of 47 after a life working menial jobs that it is fair to say didn’t make full use of his extraordinary talents.

Emil Krebs

In the early 1900s, Emil Krebs was a German diplomat who studied over 100 languages during his lifetime and was reported to be able to speak and understand close to 70 of these. He was an avid reader and learner and he never stopped developing his amazing linguistic talents throughout his life.