A couple of days ago, I got thinking… what do you call people who are more than bilingual but who are not polyglots? (I’m basing this on the arbitrary premise that a polyglot should have a fairly good command of at least five languages.)
It seems to me that there’s something missing between bilingual and polyglot, a gaping chasm of linguistic ability aching for its own moniker.
Methinks “oliglot” fits the bill.
I googled both “oliglot” and “oligoglot”, and… NOTHING came up. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nix. We simply don’t exist.
The search results hop straight to “polyglot”. I am totally baffled. Nobody’s searched for this before?? I mean, you start typing in “rainbow butterfly”, and “rainbow butt monkey” pops up as the third most searched-for term?
I looked up the spelling/construct rules, and it says if the prefix “oligo-” (which is comes from the Greek word for “few”) is to be followed by a vowel, the final “o” can be omitted. Hence, we have “oligarchs”, not “oligogarchs”.
So, technically, then, it should actually be “oligoglot” and not “oliglot”. However, I think that’s waaay too much of a mouthful, and seeing as I’m pioneering the term, I can darn well apply my own rules.
And yet… I have the unsettling feeling that I’m missing something really obvious… surely, I can’t be the first person in the world to be ruminating over this?!
Any insights from the ‘proper’ linguists out there? Or from anyone else who’d care to venture an opinion??
Worth starting my own movement…?