|Known for||his claim of being able to speak, read and understand 59 languages|
Ziad Youssef Fazah (Arabic: زياد فصاح; born June 10, 1954) is a Liberian-born Lebanese polyglot. Fazah himself claims to speak 59 languages and maintains that he has proved this in several public appearances in which he "successfully" communicated with native speakers of a large number of foreign languages. According to Fazah, a Greek Orthodox, his abilities to learn languages are a gift bestowed to him by God. He currently lives in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Fazah claims he can speak, read and understand the following languages:
- Cypriot (dialect of Greek)
- Dzongkha / Bhutanese
- Shanghainese (dialect of Wu Chinese)
- Standard Tibetan
However, he stated in 2015 that at the time he could only fluently speak fifteen of those languages without preparing himself, which were Arabic, French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Norwegian, Danish, Hebrew, Chinese, Swedish and Croatian.
Viva el Lunes test
In 1997, Fazah's polyglot abilities were tested in the Chilean TV program Viva el lunes. The program was in Spanish and ambassadors and other guests from all over the world asked him questions in Egyptian Arabic, Finnish, Russian, Chinese, Persian, Hindi and Greek. He failed in fully understanding and properly answering all of them but the first. These included:
- Greek question "Πόσες μέρες θα μείνετε εδώ στη Χιλή;" ("How many days are you going to stay here in Chile?"),
- Russian question "Какой сегодня день недели?" ("What day of the week is it today?"),
- Persian anthem Ey Iran and sentence "میخواهم از آقای زیاد سؤال کنم که شما در آموختن زبان فارسی, فقط لغات عادی را یاد گرفتید, یا این که, سعی کردید, در فرهنگ فارسی را رخنه کرده فمثلاً, بعضی از شعرای فارسی را بشناسید؟" ("I want to ask Mr. Ziad if in order to learn the Persian language, did you learn only the simple words or you tried to learn the Persian language in depth? And would you please tell us the name of some of the greatest Persian poets?"),
- and Mandarin Chinese question "在月球上，能够看到唯一的地球上的人造工程是什么？" ("What is the only man-made structure visible from the moon?"), of which the purported answer would be the Great Wall of China.[note 1]
In a 2015 interview, Fazah defended himself regarding this event, which he called a "trap". He claimed that the show's organizers did not inform him he would be tested and even that it would be conducted in languages other than Spanish, so he did not have time to prepare himself to properly answer the questions.
- Scapin, Rafael. "Ziad Youssef Fazah: o Maior Poliglota do Mundo" (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-11-12. - An article adapted from Fazah's "Ensinando a Aprender Espanhol". (Teaching How to Learn Spanish in English)
- Ziad Fazah – “The man who knows every Language of the World”
- Norris McWhirter (1997). The Guinness Book of World Records 1997. Random House. p. 249.
- Parts of Fazah's appearance on "Viva el lunes": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XA1Ifi-ntE
- This is now considered a common misconception by the scientific community, and it was proved that it is not possible to see the structure from outside Earth.