How Travel Opens Your Mind and Your Language Defines Who You Are

August 12, 2016 by R A Z G O

Novelist and “Life of Pi” author Yann Martel has lived a life of travel and multilingual adventure. Nothing opens the mind like travel, he says, and nothing defines the self, or how we relate to one another, quite like language. Martel adroitly compares the linguistic practices of different nations, noting how the French are often hungry to adopt English words, but French Canadians resist such intrusion. And he dispels linguistic myths, such as the Inuit having more words for “snow” than other languages. Trilingual himself, Martel gives an insider’s account of this fascinating topic.


 

YANN MARTEL

Yann Martel is the author of The High Mountains of Portugal and Life of Pi, the #1 international bestseller and winner of the 2002 Man Booker (among many other prizes). He is also the award-winning author ofThe Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (winner of the Journey Prize), SelfBeatrice & Virgil, and 101 Letters to a Prime Minister. Born in Spain in 1963, Martel studied philosophy at Trent University, worked at odd jobs—tree planter, dishwasher, security guard—and traveled widely before turning to writing. He lives in Saskatoon, Canada, with the writer Alice Kuipers and their four children.