The main difference between linguist and polyglot is that a linguist studies the structure of languages and all aspects like grammar, vocabulary, and morphology, whereas a polyglot understands and speaks several languages, usually around four languages.
Although both linguists and polyglots are people who study languages, there is a considerable difference between linguist and polyglot.
Key Areas Covered
Linguist, Polyglot, Language
What is a Linguist
A linguist is a person who studies the science of a language. He or she may study all aspects like grammar, vocabulary, sounds, and the formation of words in a language. The study of languages is known as linguistics. A linguist may have to learn about the structures of languages and the principles related to these languages under the subject of linguistics.
Linguistics consists of many subfields such as sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and psycholinguistics. Under these subfields, a linguist can learn how sounds are produced, conversational interactions, different varieties, and dialects of languages, different uses of languages in different social classes, the evolution of language, as well as the reproduction of language. A person who learns the scientific mechanism of a language has to study all these sides. By learning these facets, a linguist may get the opportunity to learn about the language on a deeper level. Thus, with this knowledge, linguists are able to explain the rules, syntax, and origin of the words in a language.
One important characteristic of a linguist is that he or she may have studied more than one language structurally but may not speak more than one language. Although he can explain the roots of many languages, prefix combinations, grammar structures, etc., he will not be able to speak fluently in those languages.
What is a Polyglot
Polyglot refers to a person who knows and speaks several languages. Generally, polyglots usually speak around four languages and can understand more languages. Although polyglots may speak and understand several languages, they may not know about the structure of a language. They may communicate fluently with the languages they know but will fail to explain the logic behind the grammar rules that make up the language.
Polyglots often come from multilingual backgrounds. There can be some polyglots who cannot speak all the languages they know with the same fluency. In other words, the level at which a polyglot can speak and understand each language may vary. This can depend on many reasons, like some countries having multiple spoken languages and some countries having similar languages. Naturally, people living in countries like this are able to speak several languages.
As research shows, polyglots have a good IQ knowledge, and if someone is so passionate about languages, he or she will be able to become a polyglot, especially with their dedication to learning.
Difference Between Linguist and Polyglot
A linguist is a person who studies the science and mechanism of a language, while a polyglot is a person who is able to speak several languages.
Although a linguist studies the structure of a language, syntax, history, principles related to a language, and rules, a polyglot does not study the structure of a language.
Fluency in Languages
Polyglots may speak several languages and may understand more, whereas linguists may not be able to speak several languages.
Although a linguist has to study the subfields of linguistics such as sociolinguistic, applied linguistics, and psycholinguistic, a polyglot does not have to learn about these subfields.
Although polyglots usually come from multilingual and multi-cultural backgrounds, linguists may not come from multilingual backgrounds.
The two terms polyglot and linguist refer to people who study languages. The main difference between linguist and polyglot is that linguist studies about the structure of languages and the mechanism of languages, whereas polyglot understands and speaks several languages.
1. Nordquist, Richard. “Definition and Examples of Linguists.” ThoughtCo, 3 July 2019.
2. “What Is a Polyglot; How Many Languages Can a Polyglot Speak?” Bilingual Kidspot, 7 Dec. 2020.
1. “Constituent structure analysis English sentence” By Chiswick ChapCorrected from File:Basic constituent structure analysis English sentence.svg by AnonMoos (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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