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Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > 1834 to 1836 > Swedish

One instance may suffice as a specimen. Professor Carlson of the university of Upsala, who was for a considerable time engaged in the Vatican Library, in examining the papers of Queen Christina, and was thus thrown for weeks into constant communication with Mezzofanti, assured my friend Mr. Wacker barth of the same university, that Mezzofanti spoke the language perfectly—" quite like a native ;" and that not only as regards the words, but also as regards the accent and rhythm of the language, which is very difficult. The Swedish and Danish languages are very much alike, though differing widely in accent and musical character. The Professor declared, that Mezzofanti was perfectly at home in both, as well as regards their affinities as their differences. He added, that if there were any fault to find with Mezzofanti's speaking of Swedish, it was perhaps a trifle too grammatically accurate : if that can be considered as a fault. This may perhaps be better understood when explained, that in Swedish the difference between the spoken and written language, is perhaps more than in most languages, many words being inflected in the written, but not in the spoken language. Thus the verb "kan," (can,) is in the plural, "kanna;" but in conversation the plural is " kan," the same as the singular. Now, from the anecdote already told regarding young Uttini,* it appears that Mezzofanti was almost entirely self-taught in Swedish ; and I infer from the catalogue of his library that his course of Swedish reading lay exclusively among the purest classics of that language. I am informed by Mr. Wackerbarth, that Count Oxenstjerna, son of the classical Swedish translator of Milton and Dante, who conversed with him at Rome, found him thoroughly familiar with his father's works, and in general critically acquainted with all the masters of Swedish style.

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