Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Silent in Seven Languages

Patrick Maxwell, Pribbles and Prabbles: or, Rambling Reflections on Varied Topics (London: Skeffington & Son, 1906), p. 211:
Some sayings, though correctly fathered, have a way of getting applied to a wrong subject. Thus the phrase: "He could be silent in seven languages." This is commonly, but erroneously, said of Von Moltke, in allusion to his command of languages, and of his own tongue. But in point of fact it was originally said of Immanuel Bekker, the philologist, who in addition to his extraordinary linguistic attainments, was peculiarly taciturn and reserved—"Il se tait en sept langues."
W. Francis H. King, Classical and Foreign Quotations, 3rd ed. (London; J. Whitaker & Sons, Limited, 1904), p. 28, no. 213:
Bekker schweige in sieben Sprachen. Friedr. D.E. Schleiermacher; qu. in Halm's Nekrolog auf Immanuel Bekker ("Sitzungbericht der bayerisch. Akad. d. Wissenschaft," 1872, p. 221).—Bekker is silent in seven languages.
Schleiermacher's witty mot upon the celebrated philologist, of whom, in his Correspondence with Goethe (vol. 5, p. 413) Zelter wrote (in Letter of March 15, 1830), "Bekker, den sie den stummen in sieben Sprachen nennen."—Bekker, whom they call the dumb man in seven languages. Büchm. p. 226.

Immanuel Bekker

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