The world is a multilingual place. Increasingly, it is filled with multilingual people. And dang it, they just keep becoming more multilingual all the time. Plenty of Europeans speak more than two languages, and a couple of North Americans do, too.
But this florescent multilingualism isn’t your grandfather’s old “two languages and a spare”. No, as the richness of humans’ relationships to one another (and to the entire created order) continues to entwickeln, new varieties of multilingualism are constantly arising. No longer can the simple term polyglot be expected to represent the full diversity of human linguistic competence.
Unfortunately, English vocabulary (unlike Eskimo vocabulary), hasn’t even made a pretense of keeping up. Each and every day a new form of super-
As a public service, we at SpecGram are pleased to offer the barest smattering of terms, which may serve to describe some of the many new types of multilingual persons. This typology is based, of course, not only on our own experiences, but also on the linguistic behavior of people known personally to us. Therefore, we assure our readers that each and every one of these terms is sorely needed in English; memorize them all now, because danged if you won’t need one just about as soon as you meet a new person at the colloquium tomorrow!
Part I is presented below.
Polyglot: A speaker of many languages.
Pollyglot: A verbally persuasive politician from Australia or New Zealand.
Pollyannaglot: One who has an irrationally optimistic of their ability to learn a language on the plane on the way there.
Poliglot (/ˈpoʊ.lɪ.ɡlɑt/): A speaker of Polish.
Polishglot (/ˈpɑ.lɪʃ.ɡlɑt/): One who learns only a few words of a language, but through much practice can pronounce them flawlessly.
Policyglot: A fluent speaker of bureaucratese.
Polioglot: A spokesperson for the CDC.
Paleoglot1: A speaker of ancient languages.
Paleoglot2: One who purports to speak the language of rocks (Cambrian, Ordovician, Devonian, Silurian).
Probablyglot: One who has a > 50% chance of speaking several languages.
Polygloat: One who knows how to say “I told you so” in many languages.
Pickyglot: One who selects fastidiously which of the many languages of the world they wish to learn.
Periglot: One who knows about polyglottism in many languages but doesn’t actually know those languages.
Pedantglot: A multilingual prescriptivist.
Fileyglot: One who can even understand the languages of Yorkshire’s east coast tourist destinations.
Phonoglot: One who understands the sounds of the world’s languages, but not their morphosyntax or vocabulary.
Negaglot: One who speaks a negative number of languages.
Lanceaglot: The only multilingual member of The Knights of the Round Table.
Failoglot: One who hasn’t succeeded in learning many languages.
Politicoglot: One who can lie straight to your face in many languages.