fino' chamoru

The Austronesian Polyglot

Anybody who knows me knows that I have an obsession with languages. I can officially be called a language nerd and take extreme pride in that label. I have countless materials including language learning apps, audio learning methods, books on how to learn languages, linguistics materials, and many more. Since I began my Chamorro language journey in November of 2010, I have become more and more in love with language learning. The challenge of learning a language is exciting for me and the benefit of speaking to someone in another language is absolutely stimulating. When I first started getting addicted to a language learning lifestyle, I promised myself that I would be a polyglot by the time I was 30. A polyglot is someone who can speak several languages. My narrower definition would be to speak 4 languages fluently by 30.

I began to watch and read as much as I could about the lives of these polyglots and realized one thing. Most of the stories of these polyglots were exciting, but they all spoke languages that were clearly awake and not in any danger of “falling asleep.” Languages that dominated these polyglot stories included Spanish, German, French, Italian, and Chinese. These are very healthy languages with so many speakers. This is when I realized that my language learning journey would be different. I wanted to give tribute to the language family that my heritage tongue is a part of: Austronesian, and most especially I wanted to learn languages that have fewer speakers than languages like English and Chinese and who could use speakers.

This is my philosophy to this day. My language learning times will be spent on “endangered” Austronesian languages. I am 24 now and have 6 years to reach my Austronesian Polyglot dream. At this point, I have decided that including English and Chamorro, I would learn Hawaiian since I will doing my Ph.D in O’ahu and find it my responsibility to learn the language of the land. I also want to learn Chuukese, an indigenous Taiwanese language, and one more which has not come to me yet. Learning these languages will not only help me develop a better understanding of the Chamorro language, but will also help connect me with these various peoples on a deeper level through speaking their language. I highly encourage the growth of Austronesian Polyglots and am sure there are already many out there!

In the meantime, watch this video and then just imagine all those languages replaced with Austronesian languages!


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