Monday, December 05, 2022


An Unusual Flair for Languages

Andrew Robinson, The Man who Deciphered Linear B: The Story of Michael Ventris (London: Thames & Hudson, 2002), pp. 16-17:
By the time he was just eight years old, he had been at boarding schools for three years: a year in England and about two years in Switzerland. Since the only languages spoken in the Swiss school were French and German, no English, he was compelled to speak both languages (including of course Swiss German). From his mother he picked up Polish. Very soon, it was obvious that Michael had an unusual flair for languages. In adult life, he would learn European languages in a matter of weeks and months; the more languages he spoke, he once told a friend, the easier it became to pick up a new one.
Id., p. 44:
He was determined not to stagnate in the RAF. Besides a great deal of reading on a wide range of subjects, including politics and science, and frequent visits to the movies, he worked at picking up five or more European languages (his letters to Gabo were soon entirely in Russian)...

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