Anecdotes of the Vincentian Family: Ozanam the polyglot

by | Oct 14, 2023 | Formation

Frederic did not need modern audiovisual media (now apparently essential) to learn languages. He, at age 17, already knew Latin, Greek, began studying Sanskrit and Hebrew — to be able to translate from the original sources —, and studied German and Italian. By the time the graduated from college in Letters, he knew enough English and a little Spanish. He was also good at drawing, and had studied Astronomy and Geology.

Ozanam the polyglot fb

While a bachelor, he was already translating books on Eastern mythologies and on the origins of language. For example: on the “Hindu philosophical systems,” on “religious beliefs in China,” on “religious doctrines of India at the time of the Laws of Manu,” on Grammar, on Philosophy of Language…

In a revealing letter is that he wrote, at 19, to his relative Falconett: “I finished translating from German a curious pamphlet Bergmann wrote about religion in Tibet.” He also says he has begun the French version of a Tibetan book, from its German version: “It is a genesis, a cosmogonic system where all traces of revelation are strongly imprinted.” I think he refers to a book by Benjamin Bergmann, his contemporary, entitled “An exhibition of Tibetan-Mongolian religious system.”

Author: Juan Manuel Gómez,
vice president, SSVP in Spain.

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    Anecdotes of the Vincentian Family