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Alexander Arguelles
Born April 30, 1964
Occupation University professor, language specialist

Alexander Arguelles (original spelling of family name: Argüelles), scholar of foreign languages, was born on April 30, 1964 into an exclusively English-speaking American household.[1 ] He grew up primarily in New York City, but he lived in various parts of Europe during his earliest years, his family traveled abroad regularly and extensively throughout his childhood, and his father, poet Ivan Arguelles, is a scholar and polyglot whose shelves are filled with books in many different tongues.[1 ] Alexander Arguelles is married and is raising his two young sons to be multilingual.[2] He is the nephew of artist, writer, counterculture icon, and spiritual visionary José Argüelles.



Arguelles obtained his B.A. from Columbia University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He earned his B.A. in comparative literature in 1986 and his Ph.D. in the comparative history of religions in 1994. At the University of Chicago he worked closely with his advisor, Ioan Culianu, until the latter was assassinated on May 21, 1991[3]; thereafter, he worked with Wendy Doniger, completing his dissertation on Viking Dreams: Mythological and Religious Dream Symbolism in the Old Norse Sagas under her supervision. From 1994-1996, he was a post-doctoral research fellow in comparative historical linguistics at the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Scholarship.


From 1996-2004, he was professor and director of foreign language education at Handong University in Korea, where he lived a monastic life style,[4 ] devoted to his own intensive foreign language studies, particularly of Korean, Classical Chinese, and Japanese in a comparative context.

From 2004-2006, he was professor and chairman of the department of humanities at the American University of Science and Technology in Beirut, Lebanon, where he designed and taught a Great Books core-curriculum as he engaged in his own studies of Arabic and Persian. In July 2006, he and his family were forced to flee Lebanon due to the outbreak of war.[5] [6]

From 2006-2008, he was a visiting professor at New College of California, where he taught Great Books courses in the Far and Middle Eastern traditions as well as guided tutorials in efficient foreign language acquisition through self-study.

As of 2009, he is a Language Specialist at the Regional Language Centre of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization in Singapore.


Languages Alexander Arguelles has studied

Arguelles' transcripts reveal that, while an undergraduate at Columbia University, he did course work in: French, German, Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago, he did further course work in: Old French, Gothic, Old High German, and Old Norse. While at the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Scholarship, he continued to study Germanic and Romance languages, both living and historic. It was in Korea, particularly in the period 1996-2000, that he began the study of most of the languages he has investigated.[1 ].

A systematic study chart posted on his website [7] indicates that he attempts to devote regular time to improving his knowledge of what are generally regarded as 58 different languages, as follows:

Germanic: English, Middle English, Old English (Anglo-Saxon); German, Middle High German, Old High German; Dutch, Middle Dutch, Afrikaans; Frisian; Gothic; Icelandic, Old Norse, Faroese; Norwegian (Nynorsk), Norwegian (Bokmål), Danish, Swedish, Old Swedish.

Romance: Latin; Romanian; Italian; Occitan (Provençal); Catalan; Spanish; Portuguese; French, Old French.

Slavic: Russian; Ukrainian; Polish; Czech (Slovak); Serbocroatian (Bosnian); Bulgarian (Macedonian); Old Church Slavonic.

Celtic: Irish Gaelic, Scots Gaelic, Manx Gaelic, Old Irish; Breton, Cornish, Welsh, Middle Welsh.

Hellenic: Ancient Greek, Modern Greek.

Indic: Sanskrit; Hindi, Urdu.

Iranian: Persian.

Semitic: Modern Standard Arabic, Levantine Arabic.

East Asian: Korean; Japanese; Mandarin Chinese; Classical Chinese.

Altaic: Turkish.

Bantu: Swahili.

Constructed: Esperanto.

The names and details of this list notwithstanding, both on his website[4 ] and on his forum[1 ], Arguelles has always been very reticent to claim to know any particular number of languages without a thorough consideration of both a) what is meant by a “language” and b) what it means to know a language. He clearly values the development of literary reading skills more than any other aspect of mastery, and also relishes comparative philological analysis for its own sake; still, he is indeed able to speak a fair number of the living languages contained on these study charts. Because he has had the most active exposure to them, he can converse most readily and respectably in English, German, Dutch, Swedish, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Arabic, and Korean (11 languages, 10 excluding his native English).

Educational videos on language study and methodology

[I] Demonstrations and discussions of Language Study Methodologies

[II] Reviews and recommendations of Language Study Materials together with summary and concluding lectures on choosing study materials according to student learning styles.

[III] Diachronic introductory overviews of the members of the Germanic Language Family

[IV] Persian (Farsi) Textual Readings

Books by Alexander Arguelles

Arguelles has written, co-written, translated, or compiled and published a quadrilingual dictionary (English, French, German, Spanish), a manual for the study of Korean, an exhaustive analysis of the Korean verbal system, and a number of advanced readers for the study of North Korean speech.

  • North Korean Reader (2009)
  • Korean Newspaper Reader (293 pages, Dunwoody Press, 2007) ISBN 978-1-931546-37-9
  • English French Spanish German Dictionary (735 pages, Librairie du Liban, 2006) ISBN 9953-86-056-4
  • A Handbook of Korean Verbal Conjugation (Co-author: Jonrok Kim, 311 pages, Dunwoody Press, 2004) ISBN 1-931546-03-7
  • A Historical Literary and Cultural Approach to the Korean Language (Co-author: Jonrok Kim, 318 pages, Hollym, 2000) ISBN: 1-56591-151-2
  • 프랑스어 동사변화안내 La Conjugaison des Verbes (345 pages, 신아사, 1999) ISBN: 89-3896-066-3
  • Viking Dreams: Mythological and Religious Dream Symbolism in the Old Norse Sagas (460 pages, University of Chicago Doctoral Dissertation, 1994. UMI Dissertation Services Order Number: 9425353


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ José López Bribiesca: "El español lucha por su espacio" en El Sentinel, semana del 17-23 de enero del 2009
  3. ^ Ted Anton: "The Killing of Professor Culianu," in Lingua Franca: the Review of Academic Life, Vol. 2, No. 6, September/October 1992,
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Alexander Arguelles: "Deliverance" in the San Jose Mercury News, August 13, 2006
  6. ^ Pacifica Radio Flashpoints Interview, Friday August 18, 2006,
  7. ^

External links


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