October 26-28, 2018

Ljubljana, Slovenia


Speakers & Agenda

This year we will have a day dedicated to language learning called the Friday Language Learning Event in addition to the normal Polyglot Conference. This special day will run from 9am to 5pm for people interested in learning from language learning pros from the online language learning community. They will share their tried and tested techniques. They represent people learning for a wide variety of reasons and from a wide range of backgrounds, from introverts to extroverts.

We will open the Polyglot Conference on Friday 26th October with a welcome event from around 6pm.

Jessie Ann de Angelo will be entertaining us on the opening evening. She is a seasoned musician, singer and all round entertainer. 

She is herself a polyglot, speaking Spanish, German, English, French, Portugese, Italian, Swedish ,Russian., Hebrew, Catalan, Hindi and Esperanto.

There will also be a number of workshops for you, as well as plenty of opportunity to practise your languages without our language exchange partner and facilitator iMU – International MeetUPs.

The Language Games Area with Assimil

Henri-Sébastien Erhard, author and creator of three multilingual board games published by Editions Assimil, will be there to bring fun language games to the Polyglot Conference this year! • Famililinguo (12 European languages + Esperanto)

  • Latinolinguo (19 romance languages including Italian, Romanian, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Italian, Sicilian, Corsican, Catalan, etc .).
  • Délirolinguo (12 languages including Hindi, Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian and Turkish).

Henri-Sébastien will be there to welcome and guide you through to the rules of the game.
Join us in Ljubljana for lots of linguistic fun! Are you game?

The presentations with take place on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th October from between 9am-6pm approximately. You can learn a little about the speakers and the topics they will present below.

Check out the programme for the Polyglot Conference from Friday evening to Sunday with all the speakers’ slots and titles!

Saturday, 27th & Sunday 28th October

The Pirahã language from the Amazon: the language that can be whistled, hummed, and sung, and challenged our beliefs about linguistics.

In 1978, Daniel Everett went to live with a tribe in the Amazon to study their language. What he found would turn out to be one of the hardest to learn languages that linguists have ever studied, but also possibly the most interesting one. It lacks elements that until the time were believed to exist in every language, like words for numbers, colors, or nested clauses. Daniel’s research would come to contradict some assertions Chomsky’s Universal Grammar, and cause a lot of controversy. In this talk we will explore how culture has a deep effect on language, how the Pirahã people refuse to learn words for numbers, to explain stories beyond what one has experienced, or to talk or even think about the future and the abstract, and how that has shaped their language. I will also talk about how the language allows to use whistling to communicate when hunting, yell speech to talk during a storm, humming to talk to their children, or they can even encode their speech in music, and all this while still being able to communicate any word in their language!

Creating and Using Bilingual Texts for Learning a Diversity of Languages

According to Weydt in Translation in Second Language Learning and Teaching (2009), the use of bilingual texts is an effective method to prepare language learners to independent reading of books in their target language. In general, this method can be applied after learners have completed one or more textbooks on the target language and consequently have acquired its basic grammar and vocabulary. In this talk, I will demonstrate how the applicability of the method is influenced by a range of factors such as the phonology, morphology, syntax and orthography of the target language as well as its social, cultural and political status, its traditions of translation, its international recognition, its representation on the Internet, etc. Differences between languages are felt especially when learners leave the domain of ready-made bilingual editions prepared for educational purposes and start to create their own bilingual texts by using originals and translations of well-known novels, selecting materials from multilingual websites, producing translations by means of online machine translation services, etc. In my talk, I will illustrate this topic with examples chosen from a wide range of languages and give recommendations based on my personal experience in applying the method.

Language: A Passport to "Global Citizenship"

My presentation will aim to ignite an uprising of young polyglots who come in deeper hues. Language learning zealots who can’t, at this moment, even afford to dream how learning a language will help them put food on the table. It is much deeper than a talk about, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status in language learning. Language acquisition and travel forces the world to transcend what you know and bridge cultural divides. My mission to create “global citizens” not only impacts desire to give back to one’s community once someone has learned new language skill or visited a new place, but it also helps to see beyond the bleakness of daily life in poverty. The once hopeless child goes home and wants to recreate that happiness they had learning a language. They share, they teach and change their environment, one step at a time. My lecture is for anyone seeking to learn a language and is at risk of letting a lack of resources keep them from being resourceful. I have had my life’s perspective changed by exposure to foreign language. In my community, I created a desire to learn less commonly taught languages like Korean and Chinese. Then I go a step further and teach children how to have the courage to keep learning them. With so much focus on STEM learning for young people, I hope to use this platform to emphasize how being multilingual can spark a creative and philanthropic revolution, the rise of the global citizen.

Diversity of Writing Systems:

There are many different alphabets and writing systems currently in use, and that were used in the past. Some, such as the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, are well-known and used to write many languages, others, such as Cherokee and Baybayin (Tagalog), are less well-known. This talk will focus on the lesser-known writing systems, and will explore the various way they are structured and used. It will also look at some interesting scripts that have been constructed for books, films, games, or just for fun.

Cathars: How disregard for Occitan led to an invented historical phenomenon

The Cathar heresy is a favourite of late medieval historians. They have all studied Latin and are fascinated by intellectual movements. However, studying Occitan and the culture of Languedoc is essential for seeing that Catharism did not exist. Unlike witchcraft, the persecution of which mostly happened in English, French and German, Cathars spoke Occitan, a minority language, and so the barrier exists to keep people out of understanding the Occitan people and the Cathar heresy. Privileging Latin in the way we do complicates both academic and popular understanding of the past.

How to Learn Any Exotic Script

While learners today can choose from many different styles of language courses, little innovation has been done in the field of learning foreign scripts. No matter whether you open a textbook from the 1950s, a more recent Communicative Approach course or a website like Duolingo, you will find a table with all the letters, and in the next step you are supposed to have memorised them. This means that while many polyglots are intrigued by foreign scripts, the prospect of learning them is still considered daunting, or even a reason not to learn a language. It doesn’t have to be. Alphabets can in fact be learned in just a few hours, without brute memorization, using a fun new method which is reminiscent of cryptograms. Given that just knowing a foreign alphabet will immediately open up a vast trove of language, it is worth learning the alphabet even if you aren’t learning the language. The talk will explain the reasons and go over key elements that can be used in order to learn any alphabet, any syllabery, or even Chinese/Japanese characters, with practical examples from the speaker’s personal experience learning to read Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Cyrillic, Korean and Chinese and the speaker’s upcoming “Script Hacking” series of books (Hodder 2018/2019). Knowing a diversity of foreign scripts is a great asset for any polyglot.

Learning Les langues romanes face à la moitié de l’humanité : de l’invisibilisation aux alternatives inclusives

Comment apprendre un language quand on s’y sent sous-représentée, diminuée voire niée? En tant que polyglotte, professeure de Français Langue Étrangère et formatrice en questions de genre, Anoushka Dufeil s’interroge depuis plusieurs années sur l’impact des choix lexicaux et grammaticaux instituant la prévalence du masculin dans les langues romanes sur leurs locuteurs et locutrices. En rappelant comment ces choix ont été faits et justifiés, elle souhaite souligner à quels points ceux-ci sont politiques, et donc situés dans le temps et dans l’histoire. Cela signifie également qu’ils sont modifiables. En effet, depuis une quarantaine d’années, on voit se développer dans différentes régions francophones, mais aussi hispanophones, des tentatives de mieux représenter les femmes au sein du langage, à travers des créations linguistiques ou de pratiques come l’écriture inclusive. Ces tentatives ont-elles un réel impact sur la façon dont les femmes sont visibilisées? Quels sont les enjeux derrière les questionnement et conflits que ces alternatives font émerger? Cette présentation se concentrera plus spécifiquement sur le français en s’inspirant des travaux d’Eliane Viennot, Marina Yaguello, Beatrice Frachiolla, Edwige Khaznadar, mais vos contributions concernant d’autres langues romanes seront hautement appréciées!

The ultimate cure for the undisciplined learner: a system!

Polyglots are usually very good at learning languages by themselves, without teachers. This ability is often attributed to a special talent that they have, but Lýdia believes it comes down to a different quality – self-discipline. Learning a language from zero to a comfortable B2 level by yourself takes a lot of time and dedication and if you’re doing this by yourself, you need to be either extremely motivated to learn that language, or well-disciplined. That’s why most people find it so difficult and often give up after a few weeks or months. There is, however, quite a simple solution to this problem: learning systematically. If you create a plan in your learning, all you need to do is follow its simple steps, day by day, week by week, month by month. You don’t have to ask yourself “Do I feel like learning today?” over and over again. Lýdia trusts that anyone can turn into a successful autodidact (i.e. learn a language by themselves) if they find the right methods to learn and if they create a realistic plan. In her talk, she’ll give concrete examples of how such a plan may look, based on hundreds of examples of her students.

An Anthropological Perspective on Language Learning: Whorf, Cryptotypes, and Relativity

Benjamin Lee Whorf, one of the fathers of modern-day linguistic anthropology, has been an unpopular figure in linguist circles for arguing that language shapes habitual thought. He has also been unduly credited with the “linguistic determinism” of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, which argues that language determines thought. While certainly controversial in this respect, Whorf’s ideas on language and language learning, as seen in his book Language, Thought, and Reality (1956), hold a treasure trove of new knowledge for language learners still untapped. In this paper, I will analyze in detail the theories on language learning proposed by Whorf and other accredited scholars that have come to constitute the theoretical bases of linguistic anthropology. I will also pay special attention to Whorf’s concept of the cryptotype, a part of language internalized to native speakers such that it is normally undetectable and below a level of conscious awareness. In the polyglot community today, many language-learning experts propose a learning method based on practical, lived experience; as such, the significance of using the field of anthropology to bolster one’s language learning is that by doing so one may gain entirely new perspectives based on the work of those who have conducted well-respected academic research on the subject. The main takeaway for participants will be the gained knowledge of anthropological concepts such as cryptotypes to more effectively learn languages to the proficiency of a native speaker with respect to accent, grammatical constructions, and culturally-influenced styles of speech.

Language Accelerator: description of an innovative language-learning programme

The Language Accelerator programme, a two-year programme for 2018-19 financed by the European Commission, aims to develop learning materials for primary school teachers to be used with learners in the final two years of primary school. The materials are based on propedeutic Esperanto, i.e. the minimum of Esperanto grammar and some 250 phonemes needed to reach basic speaking ability quickly, and thus convince the slower language learner that they too have a language-learning talent. The most innovative points is that these materials can be used by teachers who have no previous knowledge of Esperanto. The programme is active in Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, Denmark and Bulgaria.

ABC of Braille

Have you ever thought of touching your own language? Braille is a writing system for the visually-impaired and each language has its own Braille alphabet. On daily basis, we encounter Braille in elevators, pharmacies and airports. Braille is spreading but who’s using it?

During this presentation, the audience will learn about the neuroscience of learning a language versus learning Braille & Sign Language. Reading Braille stimulates and awakes the inactive parts of your brain and increases Intelligence Quotient. Intriguing enough, a Braille cell consists of up to six dots, almost like a domino. One can learn all 26 letters within minutes!

During the talk, you will be introduced to a neon font that combines the Latin alphabet with the Braille alphabet allowing you to read Braille at first sight! The brand-new font will be conveyed in English, Spanish and Turkish Braille alphabets. You will be able to write down your name and better yet a long Spanish last name.Touching the LED-light Braille letters at museums can help you gain fluency in ‘touching languages’. Across Europe, the rate of Braille literacy is rapidly increasing thanks to new technologies such as 3D printing pen. Which country leads the way in Braille world? France, who coined the Braille alphabet, or Slovenia, who opened up the first European Museum for Blind & Visually Impaired Children?

10 Reasons to Study Vietnamese (and 5 to regret it)

Studying Vietnamese is not a wildly popular pastime among Westerners, yet it repays the effort in many ways. It offers all the linguistic excitement, cultural ‘East-Asianness’ and economic ebullience that makes people flock to Mandarin. As a bonus, Vietnamese is written in plain Roman letters. Moreover, it’s spoken in a country that can be explored and enjoyed within a single lifetime.

Once we’ve whetted the audience’s appetite, it’s time for full disclosure: some of the things that make Vietnamese linguistically attractive also make it challenging. Huyền, who’s an experienced teacher of Vietnamese and English and a speaker of 4 European languages, will provide a taster of what mastering her mother tongue is like. Gaston, who has been studying Vietnamese for 2 years, will report on his frustrations, embarrassments and forthcoming triumphs. We will also give some pointers on studying this language more effectively than he has done.

Since Vietnamese is neither a member nor even a neighbour of the Indo-European family, it’s well outside the linguistic comfort zone of Westerners and considerably widens their concept of what a language might be like. Huyền’s teaching experience enables her to draw in the audience. Gaston’s experience as a student and a public speaker will make sure the presentation is not only informative, but also entertaining. We believe our talk will provide the audience with fascinating facts, a fair foretaste – and fun.

Teaching, Learning, Living, Enjoying: Slovene language

The presentation consists of three parts. The first one is a short overview on the history of Slovene language with a special emphasis on the development of learning and teaching Slovene as a non-native language. The second part illuminates the current state in the field of Slovene as a non-native language and represents its infrastructure. The third part presents some specifics of the Slovene language as a J2 and FL as well as some specific characteristics of their users.

Languages for a world without “Grenzen”

In this talk Alex Rawlings, author of “How To Speak Any Language Fluently”, blogger and polyglot (15 languages) will point out that since time immemorial, and certainly long before the invention of social media, monolingualism is the most dangerous echo chamber known to humankind. Drawing on extracts from his latest book From Amourette to Żal: Bizarre and Beautiful Words from Europe, he will show the colour and joy that speaking multiple languages brings to people’s lives, and argue that if we want to live in a world without “Grenzen” (borders), only speaking English just won’t do.

Vakeres roman? – Položaj in izzivi romskega jezika v Sloveniji

V predstavitvi bodo zajete nekatere značilnosti romskega jezika, kot so npr. poimenovanje romskega jezika, pomen in raba besed Rom in Cigan, izvor romskega jezika, romski jezik v Evropi in Sloveniji. Posebna pozornost bo posvečena jezikovnim značilnostim romskih narečij, ki se uporabljajo v Sloveniji.

Večina romskih otrok težje sledi življenju in delu v vzgojno-izobraževalni ustanovi in se slabše vključuje v širše družbeno okolje, kar je posledica več dejavnikov. Eden izmed teh je tudi neustrezno vrednotenje pomena ohranjanja romskega jezika in kulture ter neenako vrednotenje v primerjavi z jezikom in s kulturo slovenskega okolja.

V tem kontekstu bo predstavljen pomen maternega jezika (romščine) za učenje nadaljnjih jezikov in strategije za zagotavljanje spodbudnega učnega okolja, v katerem lahko romski otroci razvijajo vse svoje potenciale. Če je proces usvajanja maternega jezika romskih otrok okrnjen, to lahko vodi do pomanjkljivega usvajanja slovenskega jezika, saj je to zanje jezik, ki se ga morajo naučiti, če se želijo vključiti v novo okolje.

Romščina je jezik s fascinantno preteklostjo in izzivalno prihodnostjo. Ravno zaradi številnih ovir na poti v Evropo, prevzemanja jezikovnih značilnosti jezikov, s katerimi je bila v daljšem časovnem stiku, zaradi pestrosti sodobnih narečij ter zaradi vprašanj njenega ohranjanja, negovanja in obstoja, si romščina zasluži enakovredno mesto med vsemi jeziki in jo je treba obravnavati kot prednost, in ne kot oviro.

Todas as línguas são ricas e um modo de expressão

Ser bilingue ou multilingue é uma vantagem neste nosso mundo global. As crianças em perticular têem vantagens em serem multilingues e estudos vários demonstram que crianças multilingues superam o desempenho de crianças monolingues em tarefas cognitivas. No cérebro adulto a língua funciona como uma ferramenta de treino e há autores que falam de reserva cognitiva ao nível das funções executivas. O trabalho que temos desenvolvido na Associação de amigos esloveno-portuguesa no que respeita ao apoio das crianças bilingues em português e esloveno e ao adulto que se torna num bilingue tem levantado várias questões ao nível da educação e da identificação cultural. Em 2017 organizàmos o primeiro Simpósio Internacional de multilinguismo-criando tolerância num mundo global. O foco principal foi a educação da criança multilingue e as várias estratégias que pais e educadores podem usar para promover a educação dos filhos e assim promover a integração das famílias deslocadas e das comunidades multilingues na Eslovénia. Em casos de emigração forçada, que é a realidade em várias partes do globo, as familias nem sempre têem acesso a aprendizagem da língua do país, o que dificulta a sua integração na sociedade. Falar destes temas, alertar para as dificuldades ajudará os educadores nos seus esforços na educação de crianças multilingues e na eliminação da existência de línguas estigmatizadas. Todas as línguas são ricas e todas elas são um meio de expressão e comunicação! Quanto maior o número de línguas em que nos possamos exprimir, maior o nosso poder de comunicação, em toda a nossa diversidade.

The Character Traits of Language Learners: How do Those of Polyglots Differ from Those of Average Learners?

It is often repeated on the basis of scant circumstantial evidence that the average polyglot has a statistically higher than average chance of being a left-handed male homosexual on the autistic spectrum and with autoimmune deficiencies.  Is this really true?  Until now, no comprehensive survey of character traits and language learning habits and experience has been conducted to answer the question I pose in my title.  However, I have now written up such a survey on my own and am asking you, the attendees of this conference, to answer it.  My presentation will be a data analysis of the results that you give me, so please answer my questions in as much detail as you can.  I apologize in advance that it will be time consuming, but we all have a vested interest in knowing the answers, so the more you tell me now, the more I will be able to tell you at the conference! Whether or not you are attending you are invited to fill in the survery: https://www.questionpro.com/t/AOlXUZcwtw

A diversity of sounds: the chief findings of audiolinguistics

Audiolinguistics as a branch of psychophysiolinguistics investigates the connections between hearing, speech production, brain functions and the system of language and is thus a valuable source of data on the underlying mechanisms of language learning. In this presentation I will discuss some of the main findings of this field of research, in particular the audiolinguistic laws formulated by Alfred Tomatis stating the direct correlation between auditory perception and vocal emission; contrastive characteristics of individual languages with regard to their sound qualities; and the effect of musical stimulation on the efficacy of language study sessions.

Modeling Polyglots in Search for the Diversity of Learners: Personality-focused Training in Second Language Acquisition

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how revealing and applying individual perceptual patterns helps any individual language-learner to accelerate the process of language acquisition and to obtain sustainable results. Studying polyglots in the process of language learning has made it clear that their cognitive abilities differ significantly. Three basic input strategies can be traced: visual, auditory and sensory. But the common feature is that each polyglot relies predominantly on his/her most developed capabilities (strengths) thus creating and enhancing an individual language-learning strategy. As a result a special group experiment was designed to elicit people’s individual strategies for memorizing words of a foreign language. Analyzing how the same lexemes were memorized by different people, we studied the specifics of internal anchoring of linguistic data by people of different perceptive types: namely, people with more advanced strategies of auditory / visual / sensory input of linguistic information. The suggested exercise on eliciting individual strategies of memorizing words of a foreign language is aimed at demonstrating how to become aware of one’s most efficient word-memorizing patterns and how to use them to intensively enlarge one’s vocabulary.

L’utilizzo delle lingue minoritarie nelle produzioni artistiche contemporanee: una risorsa creativa qualificata e qualificante

Una lingua rappresenta una cultura tanto quanto la sua grammatica e il suo vocabolario. Quando una lingua muore, una parte della sua storia muore con sé e questo vale anche per le lingue europee meno conosciute. La domanda è: come possiamo proteggere e promuovere la diversità linguistica e culturale nell’ambiente globale di oggi? Innanzitutto considerando ogni lingua come un valore, un diritto fondamentale e un’opportunità di crescita. Durante questo intervento approfondiremo la questione delle lingue minoritarie (o più correttamente “minorizzate”) europee, il cui patrimonio linguistico e storico è stato spesso svilito e ignorato e i cui diritti sono stati sistematicamente negati. Esiste tuttavia un rapporto biunivoco tra lingue minoritarie e creatività: grazie alla loro resilienza, le lingue e culture marginalizzate diventano un vero e proprio focolaio di idee e una potente risorsa creativa. Le produzioni artistiche di qualità nelle lingue minoritarie qualificano e promuovono la lingua stessa, così come la sua cultura, i suoi diritti, la sua identità, il suo status e, soprattutto, l’implementazione di nuove politiche linguistiche. Analizzeremo alcuni esempi virtuosi di uso qualificato e qualificante delle lingue minoritarie in campo artistico, prendendo come esempio principale la lingua friulana e la sua produzione artistica in marilenghe(lingua madre), presenteremo alcuni progetti volti a promuovere le lingue minorizzate e scopriremo quanto queste lingue possono essere originali e all’avanguardia.