Ioannis Ikonomou (Greek: Ιωάννης Οικονόμου; born 1964) is a Greek translator who has been working for the European Commission in Brussels since 2002.[1] Considered a notable contemporary example of a polyglot, he knows 32 living languages including Greek, English, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Finnish, Danish, Russian, Swahili, Hebrew, Arabic, Mandarin and Bengali, and reportedly as many as 47 languages including dead languages like Old Church Slavic. He speaks 21 out of 24 official EU languages.[2][3][4] He considers the Mandarin language as the most complicated language to learn.[5] Chinese is also his favorite language. He is the only in-house translator of the European Commission who is trusted to translate classified Chinese documents.[6]

Ioannis Ikonomou
Ιωάννης Οικονόμου
Born1964 (age 58–59)
Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Known forPolyglottism

Education Edit

Inspired by foreign tourists visiting Crete,[7] he began to study foreign languages at a young age: English at age five, when he moved to Athens with his family, German at seven, Italian at 10, Russian at 13, East African Swahili at 14, and Turkish at 16.[8] He had learned 15 languages by the age of 20. He studied linguistics at the University of Thessaloniki before pursuing an MA in Middle Eastern languages and cultures at Columbia University in the United States. He continued with a PhD in Indo-European linguistics at Harvard University.[9] The subject of his dissertation in Harvard was a text by Zarathustra written in Avestan, a form of Old Iranian.

Personal life Edit

He identifies as gay, and is married to Tomek, who is Polish. To maintain his language skills, he chats online with native speakers from around the world.[3] His favorite hobby is reading Chinese books and taking notes.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ "European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - FAQs on multilingualism and language learning". Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  2. ^ Rice, Xan (3 August 2015). "The man who speaks 32 languages - and counting". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 31 August 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b Schiltz, Christoph B. (9 June 2014). "Der Mann, der 32 Sprachen fließend spricht" [The man who speaks 32 languages fluently]. Die Welt (in German). Archived from the original on 10 April 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  4. ^ Jovanovska, Svetlana (5 June 2009). "Ioannis Ikonomou beherrscht 47 Sprachen" [Ioannis Economou mastered 47 languages]. Neue Ruhr Zeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 5 November 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  5. ^ This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages. Archived 2018-09-14 at the Wayback Machine. Great Big Story.
  6. ^ Ioannis Ikonomou: The man who speaks 32 languages Archived 24 February 2020 at the Wayback Machine. linguesenzasforzo. 2013-01-15.
  7. ^ Doulami, Maria-Christina (18 December 2013). "i speak 32 languages". Cafébabel. Archived from the original on 14 April 2022. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  8. ^ Tsagari, Daphne (19 September 2014). "A Greek Translator Equipped with 32 Different Languages". Greek Reporter. Archived from the original on 28 November 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Nee's Language Blog: A Greek Who Speaks 32 Languages". Nee's Language Blog. Archived from the original on 14 September 2018. Retrieved 1 March 2016.