Teen Polyglot Speaks 20 Foreign Languages, First Among Them: Hebrew

Watch: New York 17-year-old says the first of his numerous self-taught languages was Hebrew, which developed from his love of Israeli hip-hop.

Reuters
Reuters
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Reuters
Reuters

A New York teenager has taught himself to speak more than 20 languages at differing levels of fluency.

Like many teenagers in Manhattan, Timothy Doner enjoys getting an after-school snack from a street vendor. Except this 17-year-old can order in Arabic or in French, Latin, ancient Greek, Mandarin, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Farsi, Pashto, Hindi and more.

Doner lives in New York - an immigrant city that's a melting pot of cultures and languages -- and he speaks more than 20 of them at differing levels of fluency. Best of all is that he is largely self-taught.

The first foreign language Doner learned was Hebrew, which developed from his love of Israeli hip hop.

Want to learn Hebrew? You can start with Haaretz's word of the day

"I found that just by memorizing song lyrics and parroting them back to people, I started to be able to form new sentences. And after about six months of this, it became a bit easier for me just to start having more fluid conversations with people, just based off of words that I learned from songs," says Doner.

He finds the Internet is a valuable tool, allowing him to chat with people all over the world. "I think it's great, the fact that, you know, I can log on and just on my computer, sitting in my bedroom in New York, can be in contact with over 100 people from all over the world."

But despite all his global contacts, New York's multi-cultural mix still provides the perfect place for this polyglot to practice.

Screengrab of teenage polygot Timothy Doner.Credit: Reuters video

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

$1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

A family grieves outside the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Wednesday.

Israeli PM Offers Condolences After Texas Gunman Kills 21 at Elementary School

U.S. President Joe Biden, this week.

Biden Decides to Keep Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Terror List, Says Report

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Progressive Jews Urge ADL Chief to Apologize for Calling Out Democratic Activist

Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders with Jessica Cisneros in San Antonio last week.

It’s AIPAC vs. Bernie Sanders in Too-close-to-call Texas Democratic Runoff

U.S. President Joe Biden. Making a historic pivot to Asia.

Biden Does What His Three Predecessors Talked About Yet Failed to Do

Meir Kahane addressing his followers during a demonstration in Jerusalem, in 1984.

Why the U.S. Removed Kahane Chai From Terrorist Blacklist