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Bleek, Wilhelm Heinrich Immanuel

BLEEK, WILHELM HEINRICH IMMANUEL (1827-1875), German philologist, son of Friedrich Bleek, was born in 1827 at Berlin. He studied first at Bonn and afterwards at Berlin, where his attention was directed towards the philological peculiarities of the South African languages. In his doctor's dissertation (Bonn, 1851), De nominum generibus linguarum Africae Australis, he endeavoured to show that the Hottentot language was of North African descent. In 1854 his health prevented him accompanying Dr W.B. Baikie in the expedition to the Niger; but in the following year he accompanied Bishop Colenso to Natal, and was enabled to prosecute his researches into the language and customs of the Kaffirs. Towards the close of 1856 he settled at Cape Town, and in 1857 was appointed interpreter by Sir George Grey. In 1859 he was compelled by ill health to visit Europe, and on his return in the following year he was made librarian of the valuable collection of books presented to the colony by Sir George Grey. In 1869 he visited England, where the value of his services was recognized by a pension from the civil list. He died at Cape Town on the 17th of August 1875. His works, which are of considerable importance for African and Australian philology, consist of the Vocabulary of the Mozambique Language (London, 1856); Handbook of African, Australian and Polynesian Philology (Cape Town and London, 3 vols., 1858-1863); Comparative Grammar of, the South African Languages (vol. i., London, 1869); Reynard the Fox in South Africa, or Hottentot Fables and Tales (London, 1864); Origin of Language (London, 1869).

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Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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