John Henry Jorgensen
At the time of his graduation from Brigham Young University in 2002, John Henry Jorgensen was fluent in fifteen languages and was learning an additional five. In 2005, he was fluent in eighteen and could converse in ten additional languages. He was considered for a Guinness World Record as the most multilingual interpreter in the world. For instance, he can translate English into French; then, translate French into Italian; and then Italian into Mandarin.
According to the Deseret News, “Jorgensen, the youngest of five children born outside the United States, was the last in his family to learn a second language. First German, then Chinese from a foreign-exchange student. He mowed lawns to pay for Russian lessons.
“At 19, while a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in an area that covered Russia, the Republic of Georgia and Armenia, he taught American Sign Language to deaf Russians.”
While at BYU, he also wrote a textbook for a BYU course in Armenian. He enrolled in a graduate linguistics program at Oxford and published Learner-generated Contextualization of Vocabulary: Strategy Intervention Training in Vocabulary Acquisition with the University of Oxford in 2004.
Jorgensen’s goal is to learn a new language every year.
In August 2005, he spent a fun week as the official Furbish translator at the United Nations Plaza in New York, teaching kids the official language of Hasbro’s Furby doll.