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The best 5 languages for a polyglot


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Of course the best languages completely depends on the person, for example, I'd prefer to learn Hawaiian than I would Arabic, while someone else might think the complete opposite.

But just for the fun of it, would do you think would be the ultimate or the most useful for the average polyglot?

Here's mine:

1. English

2. Mandarin Chinese

3. Arabic

4. Russian

5. Spanish

I'm basing it on some the most spoken and widespread languages in the world and also that these languages are very varied from each other. But other people will have other criteria I'm sure. :)

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I think French and German might be useful for a polyglot, mainly because many language books are writing in French and German. For example I really wanted to learn French so I could use assimil books.

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What an interesting question! I'm not sure what languages would be the most useful, but here are the five that I would choose. I chose English and French as I am a Canadian citizen, and both would be very helpful for me.

1. English

2. French

3. Spanish

4. Chinese, either Mandarin or Cantonese, I'm not sure which one is more useful

5. Arabic

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For me the list would go like this (yes, in a specific order):

1 - English.

2 - Spanish.

3 - French.

4 - Arabic.

5 - Chinese.

As far as I know those are the languages that have more speakers around the world, and that's why I think they are must for any decent polyglot out there ;)

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Of course the best languages completely depends on the person, for example, I'd prefer to learn Hawaiian than I would Arabic, while someone else might think the complete opposite.

But just for the fun of it, would do you think would be the ultimate or the most useful for the average polyglot?

Here's mine:

1. English

2. Mandarin Chinese

3. Arabic

4. Russian

5. Spanish

I'm basing it on some the most spoken and widespread languages in the world and also that these languages are very varied from each other. But other people will have other criteria I'm sure. :)

That's a great pick in my opinion. I would go with those 5 languages as well.

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Now, "best" is a very subjective term.

In what manner are you talking about?  The most useful languages? The most fun languages?

As for the most useful languages, it is still a very subjective way to group things.  What makes a language more useful than other?  The number of native speakers?  The number of people who learn said languages?

Native Speaker quantity-wise, Chinese and Arabic would come out on top, but Chinese and Arabic are rarely spoken outside of their geographical areas and thus may lose the value of having more native speakers.

Learner quantity-wise, English and Spanish would (probably, I didn't really fact check for this) come up on top.  While I definitely agree with English being a very useful language, I'm a bit doubtful about Spanish.  Studies have shown that Spanish is not so valued in the workplace (people who are bilingual in spanish and english only have a 1% higher income than english-only speakers), so its value seems to be exaggerated.

Personally, I vouch for learning uncommon languages, as those languages are much less commonly studied and can really open your eyes to a different point of view.

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:cool: My list:

[1] English

[2] Japanese

[3] French

[4] Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese)

[5] Thai

That's an interesting list. How would you 'justify' the languages 'Japanese' and 'Thai' being in your top 5 list? I would love to hear more about that  :smile:

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That's an interesting list. How would you 'justify' the languages 'Japanese' and 'Thai' being in your top 5 list? I would love to hear more about that  :smile:

*Japanese - as an avid fan of Japanese anime, naturally I want to be able to watch/read all my favorite anime/manga without relying too much on subtitle/translation. :ninja:

*Thai - I like to watch foreign films, including Thai films. Besides, I find the language phonetically easy for me to learn.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think this partly depends on where you're living. Not living in China, Malaysia, or Taiwan and have no real interest in doing so? Then despite its billions of speakers, Mandarin is not all that useful.

For me, an American interested in East Asia, the top five would be

1. English

2. Japanese

3. Mandarin

4. Korean

5. Spanish

For someone interested in sheer numbers of people that they could communicate with, and for travelling ability, 

1. English

2. Mandarin

3. French

4. Standard Arabic

5. Spanish

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