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Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Italian Linguists > Pigafetta

The scholarship of Ambrogio was derived almost entirely from books. His countryman, Antonio Pigafetta, enjoyed among his contemporaries a different reputation, that of considerable skill as a speaker of foreign languages, acquired during his extensive and protracted wanderings. Pigafetta was born at Vicenza, towards the end of the fifteenth century. In the expedition undertaken, under the patronage of Charles V., for the conquest of the Moluccas, by the celebrated Fernando Magellan, the first circumnavigator of the globe, one of the literary staff was Pigafetta, who acted as historiographer of the expedition, and to whose narrative we are indebted for all the particulars of it, which have been preserved. Marzari describes Pigafetta as a prodigy of learning; and, although this has been questioned by later inquirers, there is no reason to doubt his acquirements in modern languages at least, and particularly his skill and success in obtaining information as to the languages of the countries which he visited. It is to him we are indebted for the first vocabularies of the language of the Philippine and Molucca islands, the merit of which is recognized even by recent philologers.

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