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Zoran Radiceski is a Macedonian linguistic genius who speaks more than 30 languages

Each language carries culture, a new world that somehow becomes part of me or I become part of it. That's why I educated myself in the field of translation studies and beyond in the field of linguistics, so I can work what I love and what I do best, says Radiceski

Zoran Radiceski is a linguistic genius. Linguist who speaks more than 30 languages ​​spoken on all continents of the world. He is quiet, modest and you can often meet him at poetry promotions, translation workshops or at the Struga Poetry Evenings where he is regularly surrounded by numerous participants from all around the world. It is an extraordinary sight, Zoki talking with someone in German, with another one in French, translating into English to a third, joking with poets from Spain and Mexico in Spanish  … Confusing, but true. He fluently speaks the most widely spoken languages in the world, but he also speaks languages ​​and dialects that are very little known to us, as the Zulu language, which is spoken in Africa.

You speak more languages than we have fingers on both hands. How did you manage to learn them? What is your method for learning and remembering so many words?

Radiceski: Speaking several foreign languages has always been typical for me. Since I can remember, learning a language other than my mother tongue was not just something that I gladly enjoyed doing and that fulfilled me, but also something I did quite naturally and easy. Growing up in a multilingual and multicultural environment, I interacted with people whose native language was Albanian, Turkish, Bosnian or Romani and the like on a daily basis and that really helped me to learn them. Then, the media languages such as English, German, Spanish, French and so on, they were a major challenge for me, but also a window to completely different languages, which I never knew existed. I usually learned the language auditory, through active listening, then visually by watching facial expressions, gestures and grimaces of the interlocutor or the people, without any language tools (books, literature, multimedia). So, analyzing myself now, I can mention that ever since an early age, somewhere between four or five years of age, trying to understand the integral sense of a linguistic system, I tried to communicate with interlocutors, on several occasions, with good concentration and repetition, to articulately reproduce the same voices and sounds I hear in order to sound as authentic as possible.

Therefore, I unconsciously gained language skills to be melted or to be transformed into numerous foreign languages on high-phonetic-phonological and lexical level in order for the interlocutor to feel me as their own, as part of them and their culture, for simpler and closer communication. It came to me rather naturally, without much effort and opinion I managed to master good utterance and therefore to learn a language. Thus, I was able to quickly remember and learn every sound, word, phrase and every sentence, and within a relatively short time they became hundreds, thousands, millions of voices, words and phrases.

Every different voice, word becomes part of my long-term memory, but also my worldview, a way of communication and my perception of humanity. Each language carries culture, a new world that somehow becomes part of me or I become part of it. That’s why I educated myself in the field of translation studies and beyond in the field of linguistics, so I can work what I love and what I do best.

You are popular at the poetry readings where you fluently recite and translate poets from the country and abroad… Does poetry attract you most of all genres?

Radiceski: Yes, mostly. Reading poetry by foreign and domestic authors from the early teen years may have been a stepping stone to learn and master foreign languages. Because, not only do I translate and recite, but I also create poetry, it’s like a mental meditation for me.

Do you find adequate application of your knowledge of so many languages? What do you do?

Radiceski: Yes, to some extent, I work as a freelance translator and interpreter from several foreign languages to other foreign languages, but also to Macedonian and vice versa, of course; generally they are the most widely spoken languages in the world, English, German, French, Russian and Spanish; I also work as an educator, lecturer in foreign languages to people of all ages, the most common target groups I work with are highly qualified people, medical personnel, engineers, manual workers and students, who are, primarily, interested in the German language.

Have you ever thought about sharing your knowledge? Teaching the new generations of the languages you speak and which are not studied in our country?

Radiceski: Yes,I already do that, however, the interest for some rare and underrepresented but important languages is still low. I believe that the most appropriate practical application of some rather significant foreign languages, such as the most prevalent Asian and African languages, would be in government departments and sectors or international institutions and organizations, whose officials would have a great, long-term benefit.

By: Nevena Popovska
Photo credit: Aleksandar Ivanovski