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Hyper-Polyglot, Greek Translator Speaks 32 Languages

Greece native Ioannis Ikonomou learned English at age five, German at seven and Italian at barely 10. He hasn't stopped since, and is currently mastering Albanian.

Just a sampling of Ikonomou's many greetings
Just a sampling of Ikonomou's many greetings
Christoph B. Schiltz

BRUSSELS — Inside a gray office building in Brussels, Ioannis Ikonomou's workload is marked in different colors on his computer screen. The 49-year-old Greek translator manages the work himself, which in the next two weeks alone includes two long texts from German and French into Greek. It's a little boring, he says in perfect German, "but it's my contribution to Europe."

More exciting are three special requests: The EU Commission urgently needs translations of confidential documents from Hebrew, Chinese and Azerbaijani. Very few of the EU's 2,500 translators can handle that. Ikonomou is the best of them all. He speaks 32 languages virtually fluently, including a pair of dead languages. What his brain has managed to achieve is perhaps unique on the planet. How can a human being learn so many languages? And how does he live with that?

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Families wait for news of their missing relatives following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Barev!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where 21 are killed in a school shooting in Texas, Davos focuses on Ukraine, and a vertigo-inducing world record is broken at Mont-Saint-Michel. Die Welt also offers a psychoanalyst’s perspective on how war survivors pass trauma onto their children.

[*Armenian]

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