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Multilingualism is on the rise - in the coming decades, as many as two billion people will learn English as a second language. The next stage up from multilingualism is the domain of the 'hyperpolyglot' or 'superlearner': someone who claims to kw at least six languages. But what does it mean to 'kw' a language? Can a person claim to speak a language fluently if it isn't their mother tongue? What role does culture play in learning languages?
Michael Erard has an MA in Linguistics and a PhD in English from the University of Texas, and has taught all around the world. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Science, Wired and New Scientist, and his first book, Um...: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean, was published in 2007.