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Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Slavonian linguists > Hanka

But probably the most remarkable name among Bohemian linguists is that of father Dobrowsky's friend, the poet Wenceslaus Hanka, born at Horeneyes in 1791. Hanka's love of languages was first stirred while he was tending sheep near his native village, by the opportunity which he had of learning Polish and Servian from some soldiers of those races being quartered upon his father's farm. When he grew somewhat older, his parents, in order to save him from the chances of military conscription, (from which, in Bohemia, scholars are exempted) sent him to school; and he afterwards entered the University of Prague, and subsequently that of Vienna. On the foundation of the Bohemian Museum at Prague, he was appointed its librarian, through the recommendation of father Dobrowsky; and from that time he devoted himself almost entirely to the antiquities, literature, and language of his native country. Besides his own original compositions, Hanka's name has obtained considerable celebrity in connexion with the controversy about the genuiness of the early Bohemian poems known under the title of " Kralodvor,"a controversy which, although it has ended differently, was for a time hardly less animated than those regarding the Ossian and Rowley MSS. in England. Notwithstanding the variety of Hanka's pursuits, and his especial devotion to his own language, his acquisitions in languages have been most various and extensive. He is described in the " Oesterreichische National Encyclopaedie" as " master of eighteen languages."

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