podcast and blog about my English learning

World’s Greatest Living Polyglot

Posted by shashi on May 3, 2006

Who is this Ziad Fazah?

For those of you who know nothing about him, Ziad Fazah is probably the greatest living polyglot, for he is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for knowing 56 languages. Here is what I've found on net about him….

Fazah was born in Liberia but while still an infant moved with his Lebanese parents to Beirut. "By the time I was 17, I spoke 54 languages," Fazah said during an interview at his small, dark apartment in the middle-class neighbourhood of Flamingo. Aside from his mother tongue of Arabic, and French and English, which he learned at school, Fazah taught himself all the languages. He began with German and moved on to such Far Eastern tongues as Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese and Japanese.

At the age of 17 the Lebanese government called on him to interpret for a visiting delegation from Turkey. "When I began learning Chinese I went to the consulate of Formosa but they told me I couldn't learn it by myself," said Fazah. Determined, he bought a grammar book and a dictionary. "Two months later I went back to the consulate and they were so amazed they offered me a trip to Taipei. But I was in school at the time and could not go."

Two years ago Fazah came to international attention when he had his abilities tested on a televised program in Spain. "They brought in people from Mongolia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand," said Fazah, whose business cards proclaim the fact that he "reads, writes and speaks 54 languages fluently." (Since printing the cards he has picked up two more languages.) He also participated in a program in Greece, where he was tested in Hungarian, Czech, Korean, Chinese and Japanese.

It's really amazing that he learned all the languages by the time he was 17. Could you believe this?  If we assume that he started learning languages at the age of 7, it means he finished 51 languages in a span of 10 years, around 5 languages per year. That is a rate of one language per two months. Fazah claimed that in seven years he could learn the rest of the world's estimated 3,000 dialects. But his dream is to create a universal language that would be written as it is spoken.

Amazing person!!


6 Responses to “World’s Greatest Living Polyglot”

  1. Tony said

    I think that it is too exaggerated for me to believe!!

    Our guru, Steve seriously started learning his first foreign language when he was 17, but Fazah stated that he was already fluent in 56 languages!!! Unbelievable!!!

    He learned a language for just two months on average!! Sounds like I am so stupid at learning English but still keep working hard to improve my ability.

    I hope that Fazah’s story is just a joke not a true story. 😉

    Anyway, I still believe Steve,and enjoy his way to learn English. After all, I don’t have to learn over 50 languages in my life. Having an ability to speak 3 languages is good enough for me!! 🙂

    • karim mousli said

      pardon me tony
      it is stupid idiot who dont belive in that, i have bee told to be lair all my life because i have fast learning abilties, other told me that i am an idiot because i am dislexic !

      if you cant do it, that does not imply that other cant do it !

      i have learned italain when i was 3 years old and never forgot a word
      open your mind and think that there are higer levels than your

      when thomas edison inveted all of his machine they told him it wil never work !, yet he is responsible for major fundemental inovation

      you canot juge such gifted people with your own scale !
      think about it

  2. shashi said

    Hi Tony!
    Vertually it doesn't seem to be true. But weekipedia and other site states that he is the record holder. We can only belive if we assume that he has a God gift. Otherwise it is out of human capacity.
    Anyway, In my view Steve is the real polyglot. He has got his language proficiency only by doing hardwork and nothing else. If we want to be linguist then we have to work hard and that's the truth.

  3. I too find this interesting, but what about Gregg Cox?

  4. Gledwood said

    Here you can see Ziad Fazah being tested by a multinational audience on his knowledge of those 58 languages:

    It’s from Chilean TV without subtitles but you get the gist…

  5. Ammar Younas said

    Hmmmmm, Yes he knows 56 languages and he can speak 56. Because for English speakers Italian, Spanish, French is no problem. For Hindi speakers, Urdu, Punjabi, Saraeki, Sindhi is no problem. Like this, If you know Persian then you can say that you can speak Dari, Tajiki. Here is Kyrgyzstan, one who knows Kyrgyz, he says that he can speak Uzbek and Kazakh also. But I am inspired by Iranian Boy who can speak 19 language.
    At the age of 19, I can speak Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Persian, Arabic, English, Russian, Kyrgyz and now learning German. But I dont claim to be a polyglot.

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