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Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > British and Irish linguists > Young

Dr. thomas Young, although his fame must rest chiefly upon his brilliant philosophical discoveries, (especially in the theory of Light), and on his success in deciphering and systematizing the hieroglyphical writing of the Egyptians, as exhibited in the inscriptions of the Bosetta Stone and in the fune real papyri, cannot be passed over in a history of eminent British linguists. Young was born at Milverton in Somersetshire, in 1773. His mind was remarkably precocious. He had read the whole Bible twice through, besides other books, before he was four years old. In his seventh year he learnt; Latin; and before he left school in his thirteenth year, he added to this Greek, French, and Italian. Soon after hi3 return from school, he mastered Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and Persian ; and, in all those languages, as well as in his own, his reading (of which his journals have preserved a most minute and accurate record), was so various and so vast, as almost to exceed belief. Having embraced the medical profession, he passed two years in different German Universities, during which time he not only extended his knowledge of learned languages, but also became perfect master of German;ónot to speak of various other acquisitions, some of them of a class which are seldom found to accompany scholastic eminence, such as riding two horses at the same time, walking or dancing on the tight rope, and various other feats of harlequinade! Of his skill in the ancient Egyptian language, as well as its more modern forms, in which he rivalled, and as his English biographer, Dr. Peacock, seeks to -show, surpassed, Cham-poilion and Lepsius, it is unnecessary to speak : and it is highly probable that, having learned Italian while a mere youth,t he also made himself acquainted with Spanish, and perhaps Portuguese.

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