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Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > French Linguists > Abel Remusat
No such cloud hangs over the fame of, after De Guignes, the true reviver of Chinese literature, Abel Remusat. He was born at Paris in 1788, and brought up to the medical profession ; and it may almost be said that the only time devoted by him to his early linguistic studies was stolen from the laborious preparation for the less congenial career to which he was destined by his father. By a very unusual preference, he applied himself, almost from the first, to the Chinese and Tartar languages. Too poor to afford the expensive luxury of a Chinese dictionary, he compiled, with incredible labour, a vocabulary for his own use; an the interest created at once by the success of his studies, and by the unexampled devotedness with which they were pursued, were so great as to procure for him, at the unanimous instance of the Academy of Inscriptions, the favour, at that period rare and difficult, of exemption from the chances of military conscription. From that time forward he applied himself unremittingly to philological pursuits ; and, although he was admitted doctor of the faculty of medicine, at Paris in 1813, he never appears to have practised actively in the profession. On the creation of the two new chairs of Chinese and Sanscrit, in the College de France, after the .Restoration, Remusat was appointed to the former, in November, 1814-; from which period he gave himself up entirely to literature. He was speedily admitted into all the learned societies both of Paris and of other countries ; and in 1818 he became one of the editors of the Journal des Savans. On the establishment (in which he had a chief part,) of the Societe Asiatique, depth and accuracy of his scholarship in the one great branch of Oriental languages, which he selected as his own—those of Eastern Asia—and in the profoundly philosophical spirit which he brought to the investigation of the relations of these languages to each other, and to the other great families of the earth, than in the numerical extent of his acquaintance with particular languages. But this, too, was such as to place him in the very first rank of linguists.
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