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Evening Salon / Tues 18 Jun / 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Language writer and polyglot Gaston Dorren calculates that to speak fluently with half of the world’s 7.4 billion people in their mother tongue, you would need to know a mere twenty languages. He sets out to explore these top twenty lingua francas, ranging from the familiar (French, Spanish) to the surprising (Malay, Swahili, Bengali). He takes us on a delightful journey to every continent of the world and, among other things, explains why from a strictly linguistic perspective, the EU will be better off without the UK. He suggests that those who try to promote a new lingua franca within Europe - French anyone? - have got the wrong end of the stick: the small number of native English speakers within the EU-27 will not be a problem, but rather a great asset. Join our discussion.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Gaston Dorren is a language journalist, writer and polyglot. He writes and speaks about languages and multilingualism around the world and lives in The Netherlands. He has an impressive ability to flip with ease from jokes and surprising facts to the discussion of complex linguistic ideas. He is a regular contributor to the popular linguistics magazine Onze Taal, and edits the Language Writer blog. A true polyglot, Gaston speaks Dutch, Limburgish, English, German and Spanish, and reads French, Afrikaans, Frisian, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Luxembourgish and Esperanto. While writing Babel, he also tried to learn Vietnamese. He has published other well-received books on linguistics such as Nieuwe tongen on the languages of migrants in the Benelux, and Taaltoerisme, a lively grand tour of 53 European languages, which became the basis for the widely acclaimed Lingo.
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