Meet your new middle linebacker: Jonathan Vilma and his many languages

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vilma press conference

I'll admit that the hoopla over Jonathan Vilma died down a while ago since he was traded back in February. And while we know how a fresh start has led to Vilma taking a leading role, how his presence should bolster the Saints defense, how it was one of the biggest trades during the off season and how he now resides in the Warehouse District, how much do we actually know about Vilma the person?

I mean, how many people know that his middle name is Polynice? Well, anyone that checked out his Wikipedia page, would know. But they still wouldn’t know that it’s a name that was handed down from his grandfather to his father and to him. Vilma admitted that he doesn’t know what the name means, but it is likely French or Creole since Vilma’s parents are Haitian.

On that note, it’s worth mentioning that Vilma speaks four languages. They are (in order of fluency) English, German, French and Creole. OK, maybe “speaks” isn’t the right term. Vilma heard a lot of French and Creole growing up from his parents, but he said he doesn’t speak it too well. German is really his strongest foreign language.

"I've gotten real rusty with those," he said. "I have an aunt and uncle that live in Germany. I speak German when I speak with them, but I'm all rusty right now."

He does know two ways to say "goodbye" in German ("Auf Wiedersehen" and "Tschüss") and "I love you" ("Ich liebe dich"). As for French and Creole, Vilma said that his parents didn't teach him much.

"I picked up whatever I picked up just listening to them speak," he said.

Vilma also said that he hasn't had a chance to hear much French or Creole in New Orleans but that's probably because he hasn't had a chance to go out much.

Other interesting tidbits:

  • Vilma wears the number 51 because he said that there were so many famous linebackers that wore 52 (most notably, Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis) and that he wanted to make a name for himself with a different number. Vilma's Web site prominently features the number and the phrase "Area 51" in reference to the government facility in Nevada. Vilma said that he wants that "unknown mystique to draw you to my Web site."
  •  Vilma stopped consuming soft drinks when he was in high school at the advice of his trainer. The ban became permanent after he spent two months without drinking soda and then had some. "It was just rough on my system and I just decided to stay away from it completely," he said.

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