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De Paradis, Langles
Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > French Linguists > De Paradis, Langles

Of these, perhaps John Michael Venture De Paradis is the most remarkable. His father had been French Consul in the Crimea, and in various cities of the Levant, and appears to have educated the boy with a special view to the Oriental diplomatic service. From the College de Louis le Grand, he was transferred, at the age of fifteen, to Constantinople, and, before he had completed his twenty-second year, he was appointed interpreter of the French embassy in Syria. Thence he passed into Egypt in the same capacity, and, in 1777, accompanied Baron de Tott in his tour of inspection of the French establishments in the Levant. He was sent afterwards to Tunis, to Constantinople, and to Algiers; and eventually was attached to the ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, with the Professorship of Oriental Languages. His last service was in the memorable Egyptian expedition under Bonaparte, in which he fell a victim to fatigue, and the evil effects of the climate, in 1799. Lewis Matthew Langles was a Picard, born at Peronne, in 1763. From his boyhood he too was destined for the diplomatic service; and studied first at Montdidier, and afterwards in Paris, where he obtained an employment which afforded him considerable leisure for the pursuit of his favourite studies. He learned Arabic under Caussin de Perceval, and Persian under Ruffin. Soon afterwards, however, he engaged in the study of Mantchu, and in some time became such a proficient in that language, that he was entrusted with the task of editing the Mantchu Dictionary of Pere Amiot. From that time his reputation was established, at least with the general public. His subsequent publications in every department of languages are numerous beyond all precedent. He had the reputation of knowing, besides the learned languages, Chinese, Tartar, Japanese, Sanscrit, Malay, Armenian, Arabic, Turkish, and Persian. But it must be added that the solidity of these attainments has been gravely impeached, and that by many lie is regarded more as a charlatan than as a scholar.

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