New York & The Polyglot Conference

Written in English, then Catalan, then Greek.

In October 2015, I was very happy to attend the Polyglot Conference in New York. I attended the two day conference and stayed another 3 days for sightseeing afterwards. I arrived on the first day of the conference so I checked into my hotel & went directly to the venue SVA Theatre in Chelsea.

Outside the Conference Venue

Outside the Conference Venue

I made it just in time to hear an interesting talk by Benny Lewis of Fluent in Three Months about how languages can help you in various careers.  Other memorable talks I attended were about African languages and how to find resources on the internet, a talk by hyperpolyglot Vladimir Skultety about being able to speak twenty languages and a talk from the Endangered Language Alliance of New York. Other well-known names were there such as Michael Erard, author of ‘Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners’ and Tim Doner, a young American polyglot. I wasn’t there at the time of their talks but I will be able to watch them on YouTube soon.

Barry Farber signing my book

Barry Farber signing my book

By far the most memorable talk for me was by Barry Farber. Barry is an 85-year-old American hyperpolyglot. He was a last minute addition to the agenda and I was so excited to see his name there. I had read his book several years ago and I still had the book at home so I brought it with me to be signed by him. Barry worked as a radio journalist in Europe particularly just after World War Two in the Cold War era. He spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe writing about the events and stories of the refugees there.

Me with Benny Lewis from Fluent in Three Months

Me with Benny Lewis from Fluent in Three Months

He was therefore able to use many languages in his work. His talk was funny, engaging and inspiring and very unusual in the fact that he learned languages by being involved in important events in European history that occurred before most of his audience were born. He also spoke about the large immigrant population of New York and how he would always try and practise his languages with them and mentioned practising Twi with a taxi driver from Ghana where the driver was so shocked to hear him speak Twi that he almost lost control of the car!

He also mentioned one of the first languages he learned was Norwegian and so afterwards when he was signing my book, I spoke to him only in Norwegian and he found it very unusual to hear that I was able to attend a Norwegian course and sit a Norwegian exam in Scotland.

During and after the conference there were various social events for the attendees. We had a lunch together for the Add1Challenge (90 day language challenge participants) and once the conference was finished, a few of us went to a rooftop bar on Fifth Avenue. The bar was on the 20th floor of a skyscraper with fabulous views over to the Empire State Building.

On the rooftop bar, New York

On the rooftop bar, New York

I then took a taxi and heard the driver speaking Arabic on his phone so I decided to do the same as Barry Farber and spoke in Arabic to him at the end of the ride. Although I’m only at a basic level, he seemed very surprised that someone from Scotland was in his taxi in New York and able to speak Arabic to him!

The following days were for sightseeing as this was my first trip to New York. I visited St Patrick’s Cathedral where my great-grandfather played the organ and I was surprised to see how big the organ was ! I took a night time bus tour to see the Manhattan skyline by night.

IMG_1391The next day, I went on a group tour where we took the boat over to the Statue of Liberty and we went to the museum inside.  Then we went over to Ellis Island which is now an Immigration Museum. My great-grandfather arrived here in 1923. The guide was very knowledgeable and told us about how the boats would arrive and everyone would cheer at the sight of the Statue of Liberty which was their first glimpse of America. Lastly, we went back to Manhattan on the boat and we had a look around Wall Street, Trinity Church and St Paul’s Church and finally the Ground Zero Memorial for 9/11. Now there are two waterfalls where the twin towers once stood and the names of the victims are engraved along the edges. A white rose is placed next to the victim’s name on their birthday. One of the towers has been rebuilt and the second one will follow soon.


La setmana passada, estava a Nova York per anar a la Conferencia de Poligotas. Vaig arribar el dissabte i llavors vaig anar directament a la conferència. Hi havia seminaris interessants i vaig conèixer moltes persones interessants. El diumenge, vam tenir un convidat molt important. Aquest convidat era Barry Farber. Ell té 85 anys i és un famós políglota als Estats Units. Parla més de 20 idiomes. Tenia històries interessants per contar-nos perquè va ser periodista durant la guerra freda i treballava a Europa amb els refugiats de molts països diferents.

Després de la conferència, vam anar a un bar al terrat d’un edifici alt. El bar era al vintè-pis i vam tenir vistes de tota la ciutat il·luminada. Tinc moltes fotografies de la vista i el bar era a l’aire lliure.

Manhattan by nght

Manhattan by night

Vaig fer una volta en autobús durant la tarda per veure Manhattan il·luminat i vam tenir bones vistes del pont. Vaig fer una altra volta en un vaixell per anar a la Estàtua de la Llibertat. Dins, hi havia un museu per explicar la història de l’estàtua. Després, vam anar a Ellis Island que ara és un museu d’immigració. El meu besavi va arribar allà durant els anys 20. A Manhattan, vam anar a Ground Zero per visitar el memorial de 9/11 i ara hi ha dues cascades i els noms de les víctimes allà. Quan és l’aniversari d’una víctima, posen una rosa blanca al costat del seu nom.


το σαββατο, εφτασα στη Νέα Υόρκη. πηρα ενα ταξι μέχρι το ξενοδοχειο και μετα πηγα κατευθείαν στο συνέδριο. Πήγα σε μερικά σεμινάρια και ήταν ενδιαφέροντα.
συνάντησα έναν διάσημο πολυγλωσσο που τον λενε Barry Farber και είναι ογδόντα πέντε χρόνων. Μίλησα στα νορβηγικά μαζί του. Επέστρεψα στο ξενοδοχείο νωρίς γιατί ήμουν κουρασμένη.

Την Κυριακή είχαμε περισσότερα σεμινάρια. Στο συνέδριο, μίλησα πολλές γλώσσες και μίλησα ελληνικά με ένα μεξικάνο! Μετά πήγαμε σε ένα μπαρ στην ταράτσα ενός μεγάλου κτιρίου. Το μπαρ ήταν στον εικοστό όροφο και είχαμε όμορφη θέα στην πόλη.

World Trade Center

World Trade Center

Την Δευτέρα, εκανα έναν γύρο με το λεωφορείο και είδα όλο το Manhattan και πήρα πολλές φωτογραφίες.

Την Τρίτη, εκανα έναν γύρο με βάρκα με μια ομάδα και ξεναγό. Πήγα στο άγαλμα της ελευθερίας. Μετά πήγαμε για περπάτημα και είδαμε το Ground Zero. Υπάρχει ένα μνημείο με έναν καταρράκτη τώρα.


About maureen100

Polyglot, Languages Enthusiast, loves travel and cats. Contact on twitter @LangJourneyMo and Facebook
This entry was posted in Catalan, Greek, Language Events, Languages, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to New York & The Polyglot Conference

  1. This is a fun blog. Not many are blogging in various languages. Let me know when you have a new post in different languages.

  2. stanzzii says:

    Wow, I really want to be able to visit a Polyglot conference someday. It seems like such a wonderful opportunity!

  3. Goran Bacic says:

    Mo you are my inspiration to learn and speak multiple languages.

  4. Frank says:

    You’ve had a fantastic time and the photos are great

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