Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Linguists of the Teutonic race > Rothenacker
There is even more reason to suspect of exaggeration the popular accounts which have come down to us of a self-educated linguist of the same period—a Saxon peasant called Nicholas Schmid, more commonly known as Cüntzel of Rothenacker, from the name of the village where he was born, in 1606. This extraordinary man was the son of a peasant. His youth was entirely neglected. He worked as a common labourer on his father's farm, and, until his sixteenth year, never had learned even the letters of the alphabet. At this age one of the farm- servants taught him to read, greatly to the dissatisfaction of his father, who feared that such studies would withdraw him from his work. Soon afterwards, a relative who was a notary, gave him a few lessons in Latin ; and, under the direction of the same relative, he learned the rudiments of Greek, Hebrew, and other languages. During all this time, he continued his daily occupation as a farm-labourer, and had no time for his studies but what he was able to steal from the hours allotted for sleep and for meals; the latter of which he snatched in the most hurried manner, and always with an open book by his side. In this strange way, amid the toils of the field and of the farm-yard, Schmid is said to have acquired a store of knowledge the details of which border upon the marvelous, one of his recorded performances being a translation of the Lord's Prayer into fifty-one languages !
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