Ten-year-old Translator

Alexia Sloane is only ten years old, but she got the opportunity to work as an interpreter at the European Parliament in Brussels. Alexia received an exception to the age 14 minimum rule because she is fluent in English, French, Spanish, and Mandarin, and is now learning German -and she does a great job interpreting. Did I mention that Alexia is blind?
Alexia has been tri-lingual since birth as her mother, a teacher, is half French and half Spanish, while her father, Richard, is English.

She started talking and communicating in all three languages before she lost her sight but adapted quickly to her blindness. By the age of four, she was reading and writing in Braille.

When she was six, Alexia added Mandarin to her portfolio. She will soon be sitting a GCSE in the language having achieved an A* in French and Spanish last year. The girl is now learning German at school in Cambridge.

Alexia has wanted to be an interpreter since she was six and chose to go to the European Parliament as her prize when she won a young achiever of the year award.

Link -via Arbroath

(Image credit: Geoff Robinson)

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

The brain tumor could have taken out her optic nerve and resulted in the same differentiation of the occipital cortex. Or she could have learned 4 languages using the traditional brain matter, there is really no reason why one would need the occipital cortex to learn multiple languages.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
@Alex - Yes it probably does. I tried to post a more thorough response to that question but it appears to have gotten lost in cyberspace.

The short of it is that the visual cortex probably becomes differentiated for language processing. My original post attempted to explain how/why this happens. With references to a paper titled "Language processing in the occipital cortex of congenitally blind adults"
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
In people who are born congenitally blind the neurological real-estate, that is the occipital cortex at the back of the brain is generally differentiated for other tasks. I say "differentiated" because differentiation is the process by which task-assignment occurs in the brain and is generally determined by whatever inputs the nerve cells are receiving. A person who is born blind as the result of a severed or unformed optic nerve will not be receiving information to the occipital cortex and the neuronal real-estate will be differentiated for whatever information it is receiving. Much of language is handled by the temporal lobes which are adjacent to the occipital cortex and might cause the occipital to differentiate for language processing. There are several cases of language processing in the occipital cortex in the congenitally blind.

Related links:
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Cool story.

For the record: if she is working with the spoken word she is an interpreter. If she handles the written word she is a translator. The headline perpetuates the common misconception that these skills may be labeled interchangeably when they should not be.

My guess is that Alexia strives for accuracy.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Ten-year-old Translator"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More