About The Mezzofanti Guild
My name’s Donovan and I’m an Applied Linguistics graduate from sunny Queensland, Australia. I’ve been moving around and living in various parts of the world for the last 10 years.
I have a huge passion for language learning as well as helping to raise awareness of endangered minority languages around the world.
My goal is to spend the rest of my life pursuing this passion.
I’m happy to share information from my own experience that’ll help you in your efforts to pick up new languages whether you’re living abroad immersed in your target language or struggling to learn at home on your own.
My language experience in a nutshell
My family are all monolingual English speakers and even though I took a few years of compulsory Mandarin Chinese in school it wasn’t until I encountered Koine Greek and Ancient Hebrew in college that I really became interested in foreign languages.
Learning these languages for a few years showed me how truly rewarding it is to be able to understand people not only across cultures but across time as well.
To cut a long story short I moved on to Classical Arabic and ended up making friends with native Arabic speakers in Australia and the Middle East who taught me the Egyptian and Modern Standard dialects.
I’ve spent a lot of time learning the following languages as well through a mixture of immersion, formal and informal study:
Georgian (the country), French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian.
Since December 2011 I’ve been focused on Irish Gaeilge, the indigenous language of Ireland which I aim to be completely fluent in by the one year mark.
I’ve also recently begun Korean as I’ll be living and teaching in South Korea from August/September 2012 onwards.
Who is this Mezzofanti guy?
According to an exhaustive biography of Giuseppe Gasparo Mezzofanti (1774 – 1849) he spoke an impressive 39 languages fluently, most of which were not Latin-based, many obscure and uncommon Eastern languages and a range of various dialects and ancient languages of the Near East.
Many of the languages he spoke were rapidly self-taught at a time where there was no internet, no electronic communication and no abundance of learning material like we have at our disposal today.
I personally have a special affinity for Mezzofanti because of his theological background starting out with Greek and Hebrew, and the fact that he specialized in Arabic.
I highly recommend getting a copy of The Life of Cardinal Mezzofanti.
Why a “guild”?
This definition of the term ‘guild’ says it all:
An association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal.
Language learning is not a competition or race and it’s really important that we continue to encourage and support one another as a community of language learners.
You might be learning a language on your own but consider yourself part of a wider, global family of learners who are in the same boat!
From time to time you’ll also hear from other experienced language learners on this blog and you’re always welcome to share your own thoughts and experiences.
Before you go anywhere!
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Here are some news articles about me and this blog:
Australian Linguist Learns To Speak Irish In Nine Months (also here: Brisbane Man Learns To Speak Irish In Nine Months) - The Irish Echo, Australia
The Australian Who Speaks Irish - WorldIrish, Ireland
And a few popular posts to get you started: