The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #25 January / February 2017
Book Look
The Bible of the Language Learners and Polyglots
by Erik Zidowecki
January / February 2017 | 

The Bible of the Language Learners and Polyglots
by Jimmy Mello
Language: English
Item Rating:

Most of us are probably at least familiar with some of the "bigger" names in the language community. We hear about them all the time, in numerous interviews or giving talks about how they learned their languages. Some of you will have even met a few of these polyglot professionals at events and gatherings, gotten your favourite dictionary signed by them, perhaps even managed to get an awkward fan picture taken with them.

For every one of those Glotgods, there are thousands of other language enthusiasts who study languages as well, and among them, there are those who might also have achieved a bit of fame or at least abilities in their own right.

Jimmy Mello, one of the big names himself (as in "The Brazilian Polyglot" big) decided to showcase a few of these individuals in his book "The Bible of the Language Learners and Polyglots". In it, we can learn the stories, thoughts, and views of fourteen characters of the community stage: Maureen Millward, Jimmy Mello, Tetsu Yung, Matteo Villarosa, Teddy Nee, Antonio Rivera, Siskia Lagomarsino, Daniel Wieser, Hannah Peek, Bryan Cheung, Sydney Saur, Khady Ndoye, Mark Levinson, and Lýdia Machová.

Each of them contributes something about themselves and their learning experiences. Some talk about what brought them to languages, others talk about their processes of studying. You might know some of the names, might even be good friends with some of them, but I am betting you will learn something new about them. As for the ones you have never heard of, you now have a chance to hear from another enthusiast.

Many of the contributors have their own blogs, websites, or other creations, which are listed along with their texts, allowing for you to read more of their writing or participate in their work. For example, Siskia Lagomarsino, whom we have interviewed for Parrot Time previously, is in here, along with a link to her blog, The Polyglotist.

The name of the book is rather interesting. When not using the term "The Bible" to refer to the actual Christian holy book, it would be applied to a reference book, like "The Plumber's Bible" for those who want to fix leaky pikes. In a way, this is a reference book, but more to people's stories, rather than occupations or products. In that regard, it is closer to the Christian version, which was a collection of "books" written by different religious figures in history.

Jimmy took the analogy one step further. Each person's section is titled "The Polyglot Gospel of... ", and the sections are further divided into "chapters" and "verses". This sounds strange and takes a little getting used to, but once you do, you will find it actually aids in the reading the book. You can also, if you ever feel the need, make direct references to some of the text using the common Bible notation of name and numbers. For example, Teddy Nee 3:9 "It is always fun to learn a new language".

I do have a few problems with the book, however, and they lie mainly in the formatting. My first concern is not having the "books" of the bible listed in order at the beginning. Even if it might not be possible to put in page numbers (something which is meaningless in a Kindle book), it would help with finding who you wanted to read. A list of contributors is given in the acknowledgements, but not in order. I had to manually go through the book and pull out the proper order, which I have given in the list above.

Second of all is the right justification. Now there will always be a debate about which is better for books: having the right margin justified or leaving it "ragged right", with the lines being in varied printed lengths. The main detractor from justification is that, in order for it to happen, extra spaces have to be added in between words in the line. So if, let us say, the line was three characters shorter then the fixed width, three extra spaces would be placed randomly between other words, causing the eye to "trip" while reading. In extreme cases, spaces may even put between the letters of a single word.

Right justification can be acceptable when you have long lines, so that the "tripping" is kept to a minimal. However, in this situation, the printed book is split into two columns on each page, with margins, causing there to be a lot of spaces being placed everywhere. I would have much preferred the "ragged right" method.

Formatting aside, I really enjoyed reading the stories in the book. I learned new things about my friends, was introduced to previously unknown enthusiasts, and was entertained and enlightened by the variety of backgrounds of everyone and their views on languages and learning.

The book is available in both Kindle and printed formats from Amazon and I would highly recommend it to those interested in the people of the language community and not just the languages themselves. You might be surprised at what you learn about them, and yourself.

About the Author
Jimmy Mello is a neurolinguist, polyglot, and teacher. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, and he can also speak Catalan, French, German, Romanian, Esperanto, Dutch and Polish at different levels. He has developed a new method suitable for teaching any foreign language, called "The Mello Method". You can find out more about him at:
www.mellomethod.com,
www.mypolyglot.com,
Twitter.com/jimmymello, and
www.facebook.com/jimmymelloreal

 
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Book Look - The Bible of the Language Learners and Polyglots
Writer: Erik Zidowecki

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.

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