Linguist vs. Polyglot: What’s the difference?




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Linguist vs. Polyglot: What’s the difference?

These two, are very confusing. Many people confused about a linguist, and a Polyglot. Some think these two terms are correlated, but they’re not.

So, what’s the difference?

The difference between a linguist and a Polyglot is, a linguist can able to explain the rules clearly on syntax, and root of certain terms from a language.

Also, this person can converse in two or more languages. Whereas a polyglot may not significantly be able to parse the language or don’t have the more comprehensive idea of the proper rules of the language syntax but can speak and communicate five different languages to the highest level of fluency.

There are some differences between a linguist and a Polyglot. Let’s have a look at how these two terms differ from each other.

Linguist vs. Polyglot

A Linguist and a Polyglot vary in their interest and purpose. Linguist defined as a person who has the profession or interest in the science of linguistics.


This person is capable of identifying the units, the nature of the language, sentence, and word structure, and modification in the field of language. While a Polyglot is a person who learns, studied different languages and who can speak several different languages.

A linguist in a logical sense is responsible for recording, and analyzing the core, workings of languages, the similarities, and uniqueness, of the language.

The Differences between the Polyglot and the Linguist

Although these two terms are the same in interest, however, they have many differences. Have a look at their differences, and know why they are different from each other.


A linguist can able to explain the rules clearly, syntax and root of certain terms from a language. Whereas a polyglot may not significantly be able to parse the language or don’t have the greater idea of the proper rules of the language syntax.

Field of Interest:

Since they have the same interests, most of the linguists fall to be polyglots too. However, not all linguists are not significantly polyglots some are monolingual.

Other Polyglots are born or raised as multilingual because of the multicultural environment, and the interest to learn more languages.

All polyglots aren’t linguists, only a few.


A linguist is an expert to explain the rules, syntax, and origin, language family, of definite terms from a language. This person can identify adverb, verb tenses, adjectives, modifications of verbs, morphemes, etc.

While a Polyglot knows the sentence to be exact, can arrange sentence structure, but certainly inadequate to explain the logic of each word.


A linguist could preferably study one or more languages constructively and may know other prefix compositions along with their meaning, yet not all of them may speak one or more languages.

He can distinguish the origin, and the language family the suffix, the nature of the language, and many more.

But not necessarily required to speak Arabic – or for that particular thing more than his native language.

A polyglot may incapable to explain the syntax, grammatical rules of a language in detail, but can speak fluently in his languages. He can use the most complicated structures or expressions with ease.

Therefore, going to the language fluency is not for everybody. These two words polyglot and linguist are somewhat related but not usually reciprocated in terms of their passion, profession, and abilities.

How many languages should a linguist know?

Many linguists know only one or two languages other than their native tongue. They are not required to be multilingual or be a polyglot on their profession. Linguists are focusing on a language that they aren’t familiar or speak or write about and their specialization concerns on a language that is different from their native tongue.

An example of this is Noam Chomsky, who knows to speak a few other languages but his specialization is Hebrew which he made a thesis explaining, and analyzing it, and it sounds readable and well written. Another thing he wrote was the Arabic form and it surprising.

Let’s say any non-native English Speaker who happens a linguist will speak two languages, one is their native language, and the other one is English. There are also non-native English speakers linguist that are non-monolinguals.

In their profession, a linguist is required to study or read or speak another language fluently sometimes two languages when they got their Masteral degree or Bachelor’s Degree.

Most linguists who study and learn a language in one language family like the Romance languages become more enthusiastic to read and speak. Some become polyglots on that matter.

Linguists are also knowledgeable about certain languages even if they can’t express it. Their goal is not to speak it but to know and study how the language works, nature, origin, structure, syntax, and others.

All linguists are studying languages even not fluent to speak the languages they have studied.

Whereas Polyglots are not accurately studied the languages they usually speaks.

Some linguists become more fluent in speaking on eight different languages but that’s rare. A few do a fantastic job and learn to read, speak, and write 2 to 5 languages fluently.

So, how many languages a linguist can know and speak?

According to a Ph. D. linguistic student, an average linguist can speak 2 or 3 languages fluently. It includes the monolingual linguist speakers who know two other languages besides their native tongue

A linguist can speak two or more languages. Though they studied a lot they are not fluent in all the languages which they have studied.

Linguists can communicate in a few languages, however, if able to do paperwork such as research, and analysis, in more than two or five is amazing.

Are linguists and polyglots mutually correlated?

No, they are not. They shared the same interest in languages, but they are not correlated. Though they have a common goal, still they are not the same. Sometimes linguist turns to become polyglot, however not all of them happen to be a Polyglot, most are monolingual.

On the field of study, linguistics doesn’t involve speaking fluently to any languages unless they got their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

There are circumstances that Polyglots may be multilingual because they happen to live in a multicultural environment. Maybe their parents are indifferent race, perhaps his father is American, and his mother is a Spanish or Filipino.

Also, some people happen to migrate and live for good in a specific country. These are some instances that might influence them to become bilingual or multilingual. Others are born as travelers and love to visit in different countries.

Several people from Africa, Europe, and the Indian subcontinent groups are certified polyglots, because of the culture changes and history of colonization in the ancient times.

Linguists are not required to speak many languages as polyglots do. Polyglots can speak and communicate different languages of many sorts of people. While linguists can recognize someone is speaking in their native tongue or not.

To end, linguists are not commonly correlated with polyglots because they are different in terms of their profession and abilities.

Related Questions:

What is the difference between a language and a dialect?

This is quite a technical question that only a linguist can distinguish.

Since linguists scientifically studied language (including dialect) they are dealing with the language origin, nature, structure, and many more, they can definitely determine between a language and a dialect.

But before going further let us define first what is language and a dialect.

Language vs. Dialect

A language is the means or a system of communication used to converse by a specific country or society, either written or spoken.

A dialect is commonly defined as a geographical dialect and sometimes uses in identification to a particular person’s social background or the so-called occupational dialect.

The difference between a language and a dialect is completely profound. The fact is the dialect and the language distinguished by the linguist through a concept that the analysis relies on speech variables worldwide.

However, some object the facts and claim that there is no perspective distinction between the two.

From a linguist’s perspective, a language is like a standardized code or a national code of communication, while dialects are vernacular code used without an officialised written system.

One of the best examples is the English language. In Spite of the variations of the English language which used nationally, there is an official written system of the language that is very comprehensive throughout the literate people who are familiar with the language.

On the other hand, dialect is a different variety of similar language that has modified in no time in varied geographic areas.

A great example of dialects are the Spanish and French were once dialects of Latin, however more centuries have evolved, as a result of these dialects some of them happen to become languages.

So, back to the main question: what’s the difference between a language and a dialect?

Practically, a dialect used for communication until it developed and become a language commonly used for political purposes while a language is a system of communication, both written and spoken forms.

When a dialect turns into a national language, it usually becomes codified into that states literary tradition and serves as a national identity.

What is the difference between a Multilingual and a Polyglot?

Are you a Polyglot or a multilingual person?

A lot of people are sometimes mistaken about identifying a multilingual person and a Polyglot. Sometimes they assume that a Multilingual is similar to a Polyglot.

Have a look and find out their differences below.

Multilingual vs. Polyglot:

A Multilingual person can speak more than two languages but, some can speak four languages and more. Three percent of the world’s population is multilingual who spoke over four languages.

A Polyglot is a person with the highest proficiency in speaking of the five different languages, with ease.

There is an estimation of less than one percent of the world population are Polyglots, and they can speak fluently with five languages.


Now, take a look at the definition.

Do they have similarities?

They have similarities, and they are correlated with each other when it comes to speaking of three or more languages but, both are not the same.

Both are not similar, because polyglots are with the highest-rated fluency in speaking the languages, they are good.

Multilingual people can speak two or more different languages, while polyglots can speak five languages fluently.

Countries known to have Multilingual and Polyglots:

Polyglots and multilingual are people who can speak more than four different languages. These people are uncommon with amazing abilities.

Nowadays there are multilingual and polyglots in a vast amount who are living in Switzerland these include Germans, Italians, French, English, and Romansh. In Morocco too such as Arabic, Spanish, French, and English.

Why did this happen?

The reason is that they have greatly influenced by foreign countries in ancient centuries and the diversity of their vocabulary of the native tongue which happened during the colonization Era.

Factors that contribute to speaking two or more languages:

  • If you are passionate about languages and willing to devote time to learning them.
  • If you’re dwelling in a state with open borders with other areas you will adopt different languages used in these areas.
  • If you’re native tongue is full of borrowed words.
  • If you speak a different language outside in your home with friends, or colleagues and in school.
  • If you reside in a country greatly influenced by other cultures and languages.
  • Capability to learn and have the knowledge to memorize different types of new words.
  • Interest to study grammar and detail-oriented person.

The primary principles of language learning are the discernment to learn. Becoming a Polyglot is not impossible if you have the willingness to try and learn different languages as they do. Just take a step at one time and don’t bother to learn fast. Just spend time and enjoy the learning to nail it.


Linguists deals with how the language works and can speak a few languages aside from their native tongue while polyglots are multilingual people who learn how to speak and can speak different languages they like.

For the historical perspective linguists, and other scholars, are required to know a few languages for them to read the research all over the world. Since English is the National language, this is very necessary for them to study English, and to be able to translate different languages, as English is the primary language for their crafts.

So, linguists need to study or learn to speak the language. However, they are not required to learn to speak the languages they have studied. Only those linguists who takes the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are required to do so at least 2 or 3 languages.

Sometimes a linguist becomes polyglot but it’s rare, however, naturally there are some instances that a linguist becomes bilingual, or multilingual, though.

Polyglots, on the other hand, are sometimes fascinated to study language to be able to examine, and explained, every language they know as the linguist do but not all polyglots are keen to language scientifically, and not knowledgeable about it.

Therefore, a linguist and a polyglot are not mutually correlated. They have the same interests, and that is studying and learning the language.

However, if a Polyglot wants to study scientifically the language like a linguist does he or she become knowledgeable about the specific languages? It may be two or three languages he knows but, not all the languages he speaks.

A linguist becomes bilingual, or multilingual if he or she is willing to learn to speak that language he has studied but, he may be fluent in two or three languages including his native tongue but not all the languages he has studied or research.

Besides, becoming a polyglot or a multilingual person is not for anyone. But, you can if you have an eagerness to learn.

If these people know several languages and can speak it, possibly you can make it too.

Moreover, it is very necessary to dedicate time to your learning because time is more important than money. If you don’t have time you don’t learn, you can spend everything if you have money like taking the lessons, purchasing high standard language programs, and so forth.

Above all, there are no multilingual, monolingual, linguist, bilingual, and polyglots, in this world if they don’t have enough time to learn and to study the language.

Becoming a linguist or a polyglot is a different story but if you have the passion to learn and study the different languages you will become a polyglot or a linguist.

Learn today, or start now, if you have a passion for learning a language.

Just combine time, a dose of commitment, patience, perseverance, and focus you are good to go.

Don’t let others block your way!

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