TODAY   |  March 26, 2012

Meet the teen who speaks 23 different languages

Sixteen-year-old Timothy Doner has the unique gift of speaking more than 23 foreign languages, something he teaches himself during summer vacations. The TODAY anchors test the teen’s language skills

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> some of you watching right now may be able to speak a second, or even a third language. but what about 23? 16-year-old tim donor can. here's a small sample of the polyglot's unique talent. [ speaking foreign languages ]

>> tim donor is with us now.

>> crazy.

>> where do you even find time to do this?

>> very good question. you know, like any other academic interest, you make time for it, i think. of course, i dedicate most of my summers to learning languages and most of the time on the weekends, but it's just something i can almost follow passively.

>> do you -- are you, do you just have a lucky brain or did your parents or your school do something specific to elicit this aptitude?

>> i don't think so. i get asked that question very often. you know, is this some sort of innate brain neurological capability. but i think it just takes a lot of dedication, interest, organizational skills. it's really something that i think anyone can do. there's nothing special about me.

>> do you have a photographic memory, though? because i think that would probably help in something like this.

>> i'm actually not sure. i've also been asked that question a lot. it is very easy for me to remember things. most of the time when i'm speaking in a foreign language i'll see the script in front of me. which is very helpful. so could be. i'm not quite sure.

>> you speak hebrew, arabic, russian, italian, hindu, pashto, turk, kurdish, yiddish, dutch, croatian french. so we're going to put you to the test here. if you can translate the following into farsi . a bilingual person can speak two languages fluently. a trilingual three but what if one person could teach themselves to speak 23 different languages sometimes in only one week. you can look at it.

>> thank you. okay.

>> it's not a real test.

>> okay. a bilingual person, i don't know if there's a word in farsi for bilingual. [ speaking farsi ]

>> yeah, but who's going to check him?

>> it sounds good to me.

>> i'm actually, you know, because have you ever said -- mixed it up and had like four different languages come out in one sentence?

>> oh, of course.

>> he's amazing.