Musings on Polyglot Role Models

Cast your mind back to summer 2012..

The Olympic Games are on everyone's mind! Aldi is open late every day! The Queen herself went viral! The Olympics are a major celebration of all kinds of sports. They're global and bring in participants from over 150 countries. The world looks to the host city, no matter if it's in Russia, Hawaii or France. And how impressive the achievements are! Those gymnasts just make me speechless with their beautiful and impossible-looking routines. The swimmers get faster every time, so do the cyclists, and it's got to be only in Olympics that a marginal sport like Beach Volleyball takes centre stage.

Danaerys Targaryen speaks High Valyrian, Dothraki img ©imdb

Danaerys Targaryen speaks High Valyrian, Dothraki img ©imdb

Truly inspiring

The best thing that I've noticed though is the level of inspiration that these games have brought to people around the country. When it's Olympics time, your gym runs challenges, Twitter is full of "wish I could run/swim/play/ride like that", and you get to hear stories of many amateur athletes who became world champions. It makes me think - media coverage and positive role models are so essential for getting us involved and bringing motivation and goals to people. It works for cooking - Jamie Oliver must have got thousands of people trying to layer a wicked lasagne. It works for ballroom dancing, even when presented by a fossil of British entertainment. It worked for entrepreneurship. Heck, it even seems to work for politics (Obama!).

Who is your polyglot star? 

So the question is, what can the languages do to get people involved? Who would we crown the Bradley Wiggins of language learning?

We must be able to get Stephen Fry to do a documentary about it on BBC 2, but how about a real challenge show? How about including it in an episode of the Apprentice. Lord of the Sugars could challenge his candidates to sell to nationals of five different countries in their own language. After all, it represents international trade.

TV's sexiest polyglot

My current choice for "Polyglot of the year" is definitely Game of Throne's gorgeous character Danaerys Targaryen. She speaks three languages and shows the audience how to win the way to a man's heart through Dothraki. Such a shame that these are artificial languages, but the message is clear: Here is a strong, beautiful woman who has the brains to match any man.

What do you think? Post your ideas, I'd love to hear em!

post update: 06/06/2013