Ziad Fazah is supposedly the worlds greatest living polyglot who can converse in 58 languages. That’s the story I had heard. Personally, I have never met Ziad but I heard he wrote books about languages and he spoke to some people in different languages. That was what I used to know.
That was until I saw this video (in Spanish):
Summary of the video: he gets asked a bunch of questions in a bunch of languages and he doesn’t answer any while just providing “off-the-point” translations, confusing Russian with Serbian and reading Farsi as Arabic.
That’s all I knew after the video. I also found a forum post talking about it but there didn’t seem to be much real-life evidence provided there.
Today, I was browsing through some of the blogs I follow and I ended up reading this blog post by The Linguist Blogger. The part that is relevant is here:
How Would You Like Your Worst Day at Work Broadcasted on Youtube?
A little while ago there was a deceitful video on youtube that made Ziad look very bad. Before he went on that Chilean program the producers had told him that he would simply be interviewed and not tested. He went to the studio finding that they had brought diplomats from many different countries that were going to test him in their native languages. A lack of preparation, nerves and jetlag got the better of Ziad and he responded incorrectly to a few of their questions. To this day he wishes he would have walked off the set instead of going on live TV but that’s life. The video on youtube was edited to only show the incorrect responses and not the many correct responses that he gave.
How does the author know that? Well, he knows Ziad and he provides proof of that.
Now I don’t know anything else about the story but I thought the only thing I could do would be to watch the video again and see if there are any signs it has been edited.
Well, I am pretty certain it has. I guess it would be most evident when they switch between speakers. So I checked a few of these. Some are continuous. Some don’t seem to be. For example, check out the video at 4 minutes 33 seconds. One second Ziad is looking at the lady speaking and another second he already has the paper in his hands.
Another, and I guess even more evident one is at 6 minutes 45 seconds. One person is speaking and then suddenly the camera shows the Russian guy ask his question. Consider that the second guy would have to make sure the first guy had finished his sentence and then the Russian guy would have to stand up get the microphone and and take his time to ask. You can’t do that in half a second and it seems to me that at least some of the video has been edited and therefore it’s not continuous.
Have they just cut out the boring parts (i.e. getting the microphone and so on) or have they also cut some of the answers out? I don’t know that.
I’m not with either side here but I thought people should know both sides of the story. At least I’d like that for myself. I’d like to know more about this as well. Currently I’m still puzzled.
Do you know anything about this, have you found any more evidence or perhaps you can confirm/deny my observations that the video has been edited? Drop a comment then!
P.S. I just got an idea about how one could research this. Contact the speakers! They have their names below in the subtitles so I figured perhaps it would be possible to contact them personally somehow (even more so that they are diplomats) and ask about the game show. The problem is that the video seems to be a bit old but, for example, the Google search for the Finnish lady returned some results. Too bad they’re all in Finnish. Perhaps one should do the other speakers as well.
- How To Learn Russian through Interlinear translations
- Is Just Listening to the Language Enough to Learn It?
- How To Learn Russian
- 7 Language Learning Myths
- For Russian practice, check out Russian Blog