At the Berlin Wall

I have just returned from a fantastic trip to Berlin to attend the Polyglot Gathering.  There were over 200 participants and the Gathering ran over 4 days but I attended just days 3 and 4.

The Gathering was fairly informal and there was a programme of talks and various events over the 4 days and sometimes 3 talks were ran simultaneously. All talks were filmed to be put on YouTube afterwards so we can then watch the ones we missed, Most talks were in English but a few in other languages too.  The talks I attended were Death and Revival of Languages, Scottish English /Scots dialects, Brazilian Indigenous Groups, Japanese basics, Learning Languages while travelling, Writing Systems of the World, Welsh (learning a minoritised language) and Comparing Balkan Languages.

One of my special areas of interest is minority languages and dialects and reviving them so the talks about Welsh and Language Death and Revival were most interesting for me. I have yet to learn any Celtic languages but I am certainly interested in Welsh and also Gaelic as my great-grandfather actually taught Gaelic in the evenings to adults but the language was never passed down further than him. I have recently spent time in the Shetland Isles and Guernsey and it has been interesting for me to see how those communities are preserving and reviving their dialects. Another example of reviving a dialect is Cornish which is very similar to Welsh.

There were also informal language conversation sessions where everyone gathered in a room for an hour and we all had badges on showing our languages and so the idea was we had to find someone with a language in common that we could then speak together. Nobody was allowed to speak English or their native language so we could all then practise foreign languages. I was able to practise some Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German and Norwegian with people from a variety of countries and I also listened in on a conversation in Romanian just because it was interesting to hear. My great-great-great grandfather spoke Romanian and was a polyglot who travelled all over Europe with the Royal Navy so who knows, maybe I will learn it one day!

My polyglot great-great-great grandfather 1847-1915
My polyglot great-great-great grandfather 1847-1915

The talk on Scots was very interesting for me as I am Scottish (from Glasgow, a unique dialect!) and it was nice to see people from other countries appear enthusiastic and interested in my own dialect.

There were also evening events such as an International Culinary Festival and an International Music Evening and a Polyglot Quiz evening.

Overall, a very enjoyable experience which I hope to be able to repeat at the next event, the Polyglot Conference which will be Novi Sad in Serbia in October this year.

Polyglot Gathering