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Jonadab Alhanar
Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Ancient period > Jonadab Alhanar

A still more marvellous example of the gift of languages is mentioned by Duret, in his Tresor des Langues (p. 964)—that of Jonadab, a Jew of Morocco, who lived about the same period. He was sold as a slave by the Moors, and lived for twenty-six years in captivity in different parts of the world. With more constancy to his creed, however, than the Corfu Christian, he withstood every attempt to undermine his faith or to compel its abjuration; and, from the obduracy of his resistance, received from his masters the opprobrious name Alhanar, " the serpent" or " viper." Duret says that Jonadab spoke and wrote twenty-eight different languages. He does not specify their names, however, nor have I been able to find any other allusion to the man. It would be interesting, if materials could be found for the inquiry, to pursue this extremely curious subject through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and especially in the military and commercial establishments of the Venetians in the Morea and the islands.

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