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Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > French Linguists > Fourmont

The eighteenth century in France was a period of greater activity. Etienne Fourmont, although born in 1883, belongs properly to the eighteenth century. He is often cited as an example of extraordinary powers of memory, having, when a mere boy, learnt by rote the whole list of Greek Roots in the Port Royal Treatise, so as to repeat them in every conceivable order. He soon after published in French verse all the roots of the Latin language. But it is as an Orientalist that he is chiefly remarkable. He was appointed to the chair of Arabic in the College Royal, and also to the office of Oriental interpreter in the Bibliotheque du Roi; and soon established such a reputation as an Orientalist, that he was consulted on philological questions by the learned of every country in Europe. He was thoroughly master of Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, and Persian, and was one of the first French scholars who, without having visited China, attained to any notable proficiency in Chinese.

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