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Video Competition: “What’s Your Problem, Man?”

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“MehrsprachIch”: The love of languages and the appeal of self-made videos (Photo: Goethe-Institut)

8 September 2012

The winner videos of the film competition MehrsprachIch are about favourite words, 16 languages in just under seven minutes and the best way to cut a banana into three equal-sized pieces. They show that language is more than communication. Writer Ilija Trojanow also holds this view.


Language solves conflicts; for example when three teenagers fight over a banana. In these situations, you not only need a good idea, but also a language in which to explain it. The solution proposed by Akin and Firat from Turkey in this instance is shown in their short film “Die Banane” (The Banana), one of over 20 video entries for the film competition MehrsprachIch.



The competition initiated by the Goethe-Institut and its partner Poliglotti4.eu focuses on Europe’s multilingualism. It is supported by three well-known “Ambassadors for Multilingualism”: short videos show writer Ilija Trojanow, politician Cem Özdemir and singer Anna Maria Kaufmann who share what their languages mean to them: for their own lives, for art and for communicating when abroad.

Someone who speaks more languages than Trojanow, Özdemir and Kaufmann together is Richard from the United Kingdom. This is shown in his video for MehrsprachIch. Richard introduces himself in English and then changes languages every few seconds: French, Swedish, Albanian. These are just three of the sixteen languages Richard speaks in his video entry for the competition.



As Richard closes after just under seven minutes, he looks comfortable. The journey through his confusing multitude of languages obviously has not strained him. Quite the opposite is true: languages are an obsession for him.

The love of languages and the appeal of self-made videos become evident in all of the entries for MehrsprachIch. In the video contributed by Lily from Bulgaria the globe is literally shrinking. “Almost the whole world suddenly feels like home,” agrees Ilija Trojanow, to whom language is more than communication.



In the Facebook vote for MehrsprachIch Richard’s video ultimately made the first place, receiving 477 votes. Akin and Firat from Turkey made second place, Lily from Bulgaria third. When Richard goes to Parma (Italy) to attend the Poliglotti4.eu conference as “Ambassador for Multilingualism” a focus will be on his winner video, but of course also on all other lovers of multilingualism.

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