The ability to understand more than one language is impressive enough, but to understand twenty-five is just amazing! The name of this remarkable person is Rasmus Rask (Rasmus Christian Nielsen Rasch). Rask, born 22 November 1787, was a Danish linguist and Philologist (the study of language in written sources). Rask was passionate about languages, especially Icelandic, which he worked very hard to preserve. In fact, he travelled extensively in order to study languages up close and personal. He visited Russia, Persia, Iceland, India, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). One can only imagine the adventures this man had, and the stories he had to tell.
By the time he died at the age of 44, he had acquired the grammar and dialects of some twenty-five languages. It is uncertain to me exactly how many of these languages he was fluent in, but he did study intensely the following: Sami, Swedish, Faroese, English, Dutch, Gothic, Old English and Portuguese. He had also started studies of German, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Latin, Russian, Polish and Czech, although Icelandic continued to be his main interest. Wow! Very impressive.
On 10 June 1987 Iceland issued a stamp to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Rasmus Rask. Czeslaw Slania designed and engraved the stamp.
This is a beautifully simple portrait that captures the youthful exuberance and determination of a highly intelligent man. One can see the passion in this man's eyes and a vulnerability that belies his innate sense of adventure.
Until next time...
Stay Slania Crazy!