Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Ancient period > Venetian travellers
The commercial enterprise of the Western Nations, and especially of the Venetians and Genoese, was a still more powerful instrument of the interchange of languages. Few modern voyagers have possessed more of that spirit of travel which is the best aid towards the acquisition of foreign tongues, than the celebrated Marco Polo. It is hard to suppose that he can have returned from his extensive wanderings in Persia, in Tar-tary, in the Indian Archipelago, and in China and Tibet, without 'some tincture of their languages. Still less can this be supposed of his countryman, Josaphat Barbaro, who sojourned for sixteen years among the Tartar tribes. It was in the commercial settlements of the Venetians in the Levant that the profession of interpreters, of which I shall have to speak hereafter, and which has since become hereditary in certan families, was originated or brought to perfection. It is only, however, from the revival of letters, properly so called; that the history of linguistic studies can be truly said to commence.
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