Language is a foundational part of human interaction. Despite hundreds of languages in common use across the world, human beings are able to communicate with each other across barriers, transmitting information between each other. Translator alphas are able use their understanding of language to traverse these barriers and connect people.
Language in the brain is centered into two areas (general portions of the brain, overlapping between lobes): Wernicke's Area and Broca's Area. The first oversees the connection between words/phrases and images. When you say the word "apple," Wernicke's Area activates neurons that bring up the image of an apple, including visual, olfactory, and other sensory memories. Broca's Area focuses on the structure of language, along with speech production. Grammar and context of language are more likely located here.
A translator alpha is able to process language (verbal and written) and translate it. They are able to quickly process the eccentricities of a language and get down to the basic ideas being transmitted.
For instance the sentence: "Let's go to the park." A collective imperative. A computer translates that into Polish as, "Chodzimy do parku." "We are walking to the park," assuming the imperative is going to be followed. In Urdu via computer, it becomes "چلو پارک میں جانا" which directly translates as "to park I allow," changing the statement into a permission.
The language centers in the translator's brain can overcome this kind of literal translation, examining context while retaining the tone of the individual language. To do this, the parts of the brain which are open to learning languages have to be incredibly efficient.
However this increase in efficiency seems to damage or stunt one aspect of the language areas; speech production. The one known translator alpha was unable to verbally communicate, relying on a computer that turned her gestures into audio speech. This may mean that the Broca's Area forgoes speech production, putting all neural energy into speech comprehension.
Eric Letrobe (possibly)