Conclusive evidence surrounding this question is pretty hard to find, and given below is what research has thrown up in looking for people speaking multiple languages.
When it comes to people living in today’s world, all research surrounding who speaks the most languages in the world points to a single name, and that is of Ziad Fazah, an immigrant from Lebanon settled in Porto Alegre (Brazil).
His count, however, does not touch the 60 mark yet, as he is one short of the mark (at last count he claimed knowing 59 languages). He was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records on this account until 1998. With a degree in philology, he started his working life as a language tutor giving lessons in French, German, Danish, and Swedish.
Historically, there have been a number of polyglots who have supposedly spoken more than 60 languages. Here is a list of some:
- Al-Farabi, a 10th century Muslim scholar is believed to have spoken 70 languages.
- Hans Conon von der Gabelentz (1807 – 1874) from Germany was responsible for researching and publishing the grammar of 80 languages.
- Georg Sauerwein (1831 to 1904) supposedly had mastery over around 75 languages.
- Emil Krebs (1867 to 1930) is said to have had mastery over 68 languages and studied around 120 in all.
- More recently, Estonian Uku Masing (1909 to 1985) spoke over 65 languages at the time he passed away.
- Hong Kong’s governor from 1854 – 1859, Sir John Bowring (1792 to 18 72), however, probably holds the record, for he is credited to have learnt over 200 languages, and he supposedly spoke over 100.
This, of course, is not a comprehensive list of people speaking more than 60 languages, and there surely might have been more. Of the current existence of any though, there is no known record.
- None Found