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Hi, my name is Lewis and I have to do a report on inventors.  I chose Nikola Tesla.  Can you give me the list of languages he spoke?

In addition to his native language Serbo-Croatian, Tesla also spoke Latin, Italian, French, German, and English.  (See Nikola Tesla  The European Years, by Daniel Mrkich.)

Tesla had some interesting views on speech, language, and the dissemination of information as expressed in "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace," Electrical World and Engineer, January 7, 1905

Fights between individuals, as well as governments and nations, invariably result from misunderstandings in the broadest interpretation of this term.  Misunderstandings are always caused by the inability of appreciating one another's point of view.  This again is due to the ignorance of those concerned, not so much in their own, as in their mutual fields.  The peril of a clash is aggravated by a more or less predominant sense of combativeness, posed by every human being.  To resist this inherent fighting tendency the best way is to dispel ignorance of the doings of others by a systematic spread of general knowledge.  With this object in view, it is most important to aid exchange of thought and intercourse.

Mutual understanding would be immensely facilitated by the use of one universal tongue.  But which shall it be, is the great question.  At present it looks as if the English might be adopted as such, though it must be admitted that it is not the most suitable.  Each language, of course, excels in some feature.  The English lends itself to a terse, forceful expression of facts.  The French is precise and finely distinctive.  The Italian is probably the most melodious and easiest to learn.  The Slavic tongues are very rich in sound but extremely difficult to master.  The German is unequaled in the facility it offers for coining and combining words.  A practical answer to that momentous question must perforce be found in times to come, for it is manifest that by adopting one common language the onward march of man would be prodigiously quickened.  I do not believe that an artificial concoction, like Volapuk, will ever find universal acceptance, however time-saving it might be.  That would be contrary to human nature.  Languages have grown into our hearts.  I rather look to the possibility of a reversion to the old Latin or Greek mother tongues, basing myself in this conclusion on the Spencerian law of rhythm [see Spencer's First Principles].  It seems unfortunate that the English-speaking nations, who are now fittest to rule the world, while endowed with extraordinary energy and practical intelligence, are singularly wanting in linguistic talent.

Next to speech we must consider permanent records of all kinds as a means for disseminating general information, or that knowledge of mutual endeavor which is chiefly conducive to harmony.  Here the newspapers play by far the most important part.  They are undoubtedly more effective than institutions of learning, libraries, museums and individual correspondence, all combined.  The knowledge they convey is, on the whole, superficial and sometimes defective, but it is poured out in a mighty stream that reaches far and wide.  Disregarding the force of electrical invention, that of journalism is the greatest in urging peace.  Our schools are instrumental, mainly, in the furtherance of special thorough knowledge in our own fields, which is destructive of concordance.  A world composed of crass specialists only would be perpetually at war.  The diffusion of general knowledge through libraries and similar sources of information is very slow.  As to individual correspondence, it is principally useful as an indispensable ingredient of the cement of commercial interest, that most powerful binding material between heterogeneous masses of humanity.  It would be hard to overestimate the beneficial influence of the marvelous and precise art of photography, nor can that of other arts or means of recording be ignored.  But a simple reflection will show that the peace-making force of all permanent, printed, printed or other records, resides not in themselves.  It must be sought elsewhere.  This is also true of speech.

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