Anybody knows Ioannis Ikonomou?

Ioannis Ikonomou works as an interpreter for the European Union in Brussels and he speaks 32 languages, or maybe even more, according to different sources. If you personally know Ioannis or you know how to reach him, please tell him that we, at Freelang, would love to interview him! We just read an article in French that gave very few details, just that the man is 44 year-old and he began learning English at the age of 5. He considers Chinese as a simple language (!) and mentions Hungarian as the most difficult language to learn. I had already heard that before, but coming from a guy who knows so many languages, it sounds really true. The one question I really would like to ask him, though, is how does he do so as not to forget a language?

What about you, dear reader, do you speak several languages and can you practice them on a regular basis?

15 Comments on “Anybody knows Ioannis Ikonomou?”

  1. Hi. i’m from vietnam. i’ve read an article about him on a magazine in vietnam. he’s so incredible; according to the article, he can speak fluently write correctly 32 languages, it may be 42 if including some ancient languages. He access a new language by a special method. he learns about that country and so that he loves their culture, dishes… For example: pierogi of Poland, Dostoevsky of russia…

    He spends 5 years to learn english, 7 years for German… but he has a problem in pronounce Vietnamese, although he finds it easy to learn vietnamese grammar.

    he ‘s afraid that someday he will miss some languages he knows. “language, as well as sport, if you don’t practice, tou’ll lose”, he said

  2. I don’t know if Hungarian is the most dificult language. I think the most dificult is that one you still didn’t learn. For me thai can be considered dificult, cause I don’t know a single word.
    Anyway, when I was at the university, I had a friend whose relatives were from Hungary, and she hated to speak Hungarian, not because was dificult, but cause she had to translated everything Portuguese-Hungarian-Portuguese for her family, and when she went to school she had problems in learning Portuguese.

  3. I lived in Germany,Linguistic happen to be one of my hobby as well. I believe for some is an addiction with a different feeling that you are able do decipher a secret without hindrances.People who long to learn a language see it sometime as a challenge,and if you a gifted as in in the case of loannis Ikonomou? then Heaven could be the limit.
    Nonetheless, I would translate what was written so far about our Linguistic guy soon in English, so that those who are interested could have an insight to its interview.

  4. Hi everybody! I’m from Vietnam too. That’s incredible for a man to know 32 languages. Fantastic! Does anyone know his email address? if any does, pls advise me through mine n.nail@yahoo.com so that I can write to him asking for some valuable methods, experience for learning a foreign language as one can see understanding the other person from different culture by speaking to him in his mother tongue is a useful way for closely bridging people of various backgrounds.

  5. Hey! I’m from Greece n’ i know that this is true and he indeed know so many languages (42 actually) sadly i dunno him in person but i really admire him, i also could translae the text if u want

  6. Ioannis said that he is “COMFORTABLE” with speaking/translating 32 languages; there’s the difference between the 32 and 42. Obviously he is most proficient at 32 but speaks/knows 42. Wow.

    His “secret,” which is not a secret, is to “totally imerse” himself in the language and its culture, to “fall in love with the language.”

    He has studied ancient languages as well. His studies in Indo-European linguistics included courses in Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Avestan, Old Persian, Middle Iranian languages, Classical Armenian, Gothic, Pali, Old Church Slavonic, Hittite, Luwian, Oscan, Umbrian and Irish.

    His current love affair is with Amharic, the oldest African language with its own characters, the official (and currently spoken) language of Ethiopia.

    Wow. ;-)))

  7. hey,i’m multi-lingual and i do lose touch with languages if i do not practise them but i regain it in a very short time once i start using it.languages have thinking patterns and to learn the language,you need to learn the thinking pattern before proceeding with tenses.just like any learning,you need to love it to learn it.
    i wonder if this man knows lithuanian because i read that its the hardest language to learn because it has 36 cases! i think since hungarian is related,so it makes it similarly difficult.i agree with him with chinese though,its the simplest, just after you tackle the pronounciation(which might be the hardest).
    in chinese you simply put words together with no articles,plurals,gender,etc. for example : wo qui xi zao ( I go bath room ).
    im currently learning spanish so if you can help out then add my sky.pe id k.visible

  8. @Hawkie: Hungarian is no more related to Lithuanian than is Chinese! It has seven cases, around the same number as a number of other indo-European languages, mainly slavic and baltic nowadays, and as such is comprehensible and quite learnable due to having many word roots in common with its European relative languages. What makes Hungarian challenging is its word roots, which are so often completely unlike other European languages, and its grammar, which is also different.

  9. The most interesting thing about Ioannis comment was for me that he stressed that what was interesting was not the languages themselves but the culture of the country.
    I have always felt that when learning geography you missed getting a sense of the soul of the country/language/history/culture and their old folk tales in order to be able to understand what makes a country/culture tick.
    This he apparently also saw at the most interesting aspect of learning languages.
    I take my hat off to him!!
    Cheers
    solbjerg

  10. When I first read about Ioannis I was in complete shock! I am a teacher of four foreign languages, and it took me almost ten years to complete 4 BAs and a Master degree. I am Greek as well and I feel very proud of Ioannis Economou. We are both from two different islands, Ioannis from Crete and I from Cyprus. I guess the places where we grew up gave us the incentive to move on with languages. Anyway, I managed to master English, French, Italian, and Spanish. I am currently studying Turkish, which is my favourite!!!
    Good luck to those who wish to learn MANY languages.

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