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The term polyglot has several definitions. The term traditionally applies to a person who can both speak and write at least three languages with great fluency, but it can also be applied to translations of works for which there is more than one lingual source. The Bible, for example, is a polyglot in many places because the same text appears in Hebrew, Aramaic, and sometimes Greek.
This word may also refer to a spoken language that mixes several different languages at once. Children who are raised bilingual often communicate in their two native languages at the same time, reaching for whatever word from either language that best fits. It is quite common to hear bilingual children carrying on discussions that switch from one language to another, even within sentences.
There are some cultures that emphasize early polyglot characteristics, although the United States tends not to be one of these cultures. Children may not start to acquire a second language until freshman year in high school in the US, unless English is a second language to them. Unfortunately, those who wait until they are older, unless they have extreme facility for learning other languages, tend not to become perfectly fluent in additional languages. Many experts believe that, without natural genius, true multilingual abilities tend to occur only in those who learn several languages as young children.
In some cultures, several languages are learned because they are necessary. In India, for example, a person might speak some English, Hindi, and Arabic. Languages are also evaluated this way occasionally because they derive words from many different language sources.
In English, for example, there are words that are Greek, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Latin, and about 10,000 French words. The polyglot nature of English as a language makes it quite difficult to learn for non-English speakers. The language sources mean there are several ways to say the same thing, instead of just one or two. In addition, for every rule there are a number of exceptions in usage, spelling, and pronunciation.
The term can also refer to computer programs that are written in several languages so that they can be compatible for different operating systems, or alternately, several languages may be used in one program to produce the same effects. A polyglot program may also respond to commands from another language, even though theoretically it should not. There are many such programs, however, that make use easier for people familiar with different programming languages.