As I come, rather later in life than is entirely seemly, to the business of picking up some minimum sense of some other languages (other than French, of course; speaking French badly with an atrocious accent is a core skill we Brits all pick up in school) -- I am struck by the fact that learning a language is a complex task: it requires a lot of effort, the mastery of difficult interlocking skills-bases to do with vocabulary and syntax, grammar and idiom; plus, of course, it's eminently practical. Like building a motorbike from scratch. It ought (it occurs to me, as I slip deliberately into self-consciously sexist mode) to be an archetypal manly activity. But it's not: on the contrary. The popular conception of the linguistically multi-skilled individual is either fey, effeminate and ineffectual, like this geezer:
Or fey and psychotic like this one:
I appreciate, of course, that I'm only talking about an Anglocentric position (of course things are very different on the Continent, for instance). But even so: I'm at a loss to explain the default hostility aroused by the individual who can speak many languages fluently. Is it that linguistic versatility is seen as being fundamentally slippery, evasive and so on? But that's bullshit.