I was describing Babel No More to someone I met yesterday, who said that her desired superpower has always been to be able to speak and understand all the languages in the world.
“Why don’t you want to be able to communicate with all living things?” someone standing near our conversation asked. “Wouldn’t it be cool to talk to plants? I’d love to talk to plants.”
“I guess I wasn’t that greedy,” my interlocutor replied.
She said that she really needs five languages for her current job (which is interacting with members of immigrant communities in the Boston area), but only has smatterings of a few. Which five? I asked her. Spanish, Haitian Creole, Cape Verdean Creole, Vietnamese, and another one I can’t remember. The point is that the languages that someone in the US could use differ substantially from many language aficionado choices, which often seem designed to enable a tourist’s itinerary; interestingly, no creole (not even Swahili) showed up in the language repertoires of the people who responded to my polyglot survey.