When it comes to languages, the average American doesn’t know more than one. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 22% of Americans speak more than English. Arieh Smith, the New Yorker behind the YouTube channel Xiaomanyc, has studied and spoken in dozens.
It all began when he lived in Beijing for a year and learned how to speak Mandarin during his time immersed in the culture. The interesting experience made him desire to learn more about other cultures, too. So he decided he would start learning other languages to help him connect with people from all over the world.
On his channel, Arieh shows off his polyglot abilities by surprising countless native speakers with their own language. He’ll visit the stores of people who speak a language he’s learning. Arieh connects with them when he suddenly reveals his knowledge of their language—including Spanish, Urdu, Punjabi and Norwegian.
He’ll also experience other parts of various cultures, too—like a Russian spa or Chinese fire cupping.
Arieh intentionally practices each language in order to get a firm grasp on it. His ability to learn and remember languages is impressive.
Xiaomanyc produces some lovely interactions for viewers to watch as strangers hear Arieh speak their native language. “This is amazing, because with languages, you can make so many friends,” Arieh says in one video.
And it’s evident the effect he has on those people. In many of his interactions, strangers immediately light up when they hear that Arieh has learned or is learning their language. Interactions that might otherwise have been mundane become friendly and personal. The videos illustrate how even a little effort can help connect us with strangers around us.
Arieh occasionally uses the s-word and “d–n.” He also uses God’s name in vain, and a couple other harder profanities are censored. In “Baby visits America’s BIGGEST Indoor Water Park,” we briefly see Arieh in his boxers. In a couple other videos, Arieh checks out various spa or massage businesses, and we see him get a shirtless massage. One video, titled “I Got a Naked, Full-Body Korean Body Scrub,” is exactly as its title suggests, with a black censor circle covering the most critical bits.
In “I Learned Norwegian in 2 Weeks Then Went on Live TV in Norway,” Arieh comments on how many Norwegian words sound similar to English vulgarities, and he gives a few examples.
Xiaomanyc will encourage those who are learning or are thinking about learning a new language. And Arieh’s interactions with native speakers of a language help connect us to other cultures. But viewers should be mindful of some language concerns and a couple of videos that might not be appropriate for younger audiences.
Though he was born in Kansas, Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics and hermeneutics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”