A “First world problem” is a minor inconvenience for people who don’t have to deal with any pressing concerns – an advantage of living in a richer country or having a rich lifestyle. As such, it's hardly something to genuinely complain about.
Along the same lines, a Polyglot Problem is an inconvenience you only have to deal with when you speak multiple languages! It’s hardly grounds for saying your life is unfair, because you do have that wonderful advantage that gave you the inconvenience after all. 🙂
I’ve been seeing the hashtag gain grounds on twitter, Facebook and even Instagram, as well as get posted on other blogs, so I figured I’d share my own “complaints” as well as some of my favourites from elsewhere. Enjoy!
Some of Benny’s polyglot problems
- When you bump into someone you’ve already met, and have that awkward few seconds where you can’t remember what language they speak and are waiting for them to say “Hello” or “How are you?” first so you can figure it out
- When someone discovers that I speak another language, and demand that I “say something in [that language]”. I find this to be an uninspired and dull question. What would they say if I told them to say “something” in their mother tongue? If I want to be a smartass, I usually just reply with the single word algo/quelque chose/rud éigin/东西/io/irgendwas…
- When you meet another polyglot, and have to spend the first few minutes deciding which of your five common languages you are going to be speaking in
- You get woken up with a phonecall, and are too tired to remember what country you are in and if you should answer with “Pronto?” or “Allo?” or “Bueno”… This is a trio of #firstworldproblems, #polyglotproblems, and #worldtravellerproblems
- You casually mention the word “polyglot” to someone not into language learning, and they think you have multiple lovers
- Signing up for a new profile on a site and selecting the “Languages I know” area and they only have two or three options! How am I supposed to pick just three? Couchsurfing has a more generous limit of 10 languages on your profile, but I still eventually had to remove English so that I had room for other languages!
- When you receive emails on a daily basis that change language every sentence, since people think that’s how polyglots write and feel comfortable reading 😛
— Benny Lewis (@irishpolyglot) May 15, 2013
From 10 Problems Only a Language Lover Will Understand on the Transparent blog
- When you procrastinate studying a language… by studying another one
- When all you can think about is which language you’ll learn next, even though you can’t keep up with the languages you’ve already learned
- When people talk about you in a foreign language assuming you don’t speak it… but you do
- When you begin parler en multiple idiomas at the same tiempo
- When someone asks you why you’re learning that language, as if it’s impossible just to learn a language for fun
i have too many keyboards activated and it takes forever to scroll through to get to the language i want! UGH #polyglotproblems
— Lily Liu (@xlilyliu) December 23, 2011
When you try to think of a word and can only remember it in another language. #polyglotproblems
— Polyglot Problems (@polyglotprobs) January 30, 2014
Only I would get involved in a 10-minute grammar argument that spanned four languages. #PolyglotProblems
— Justin Sanak (@JustinSanak) 2012. February 24, 2012
From PolyglotProblems on Tumblr
I suppose my favourite polyglot problem was when I was attending the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin this year. Many people had t-shirts that said what languages they speak, or badges that listed their languages. For some, the list of languages was so vast that they couldn't fit it on the badge! A very unique problem to have indeed 🙂
Richard Simcott's solution to the problem was to just have two words on his badge: “Try me!”
What #polyglotproblems have you run into in your language learning adventures? Share them with us in the comments!
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.