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Fourmont, Etienne

FOURMONT, ETIENNE (1683-1745), French orientalist, was born at Herbelai, near Saint Denis, on the 23rd of June 1683. He studied at the Collège Mazarin, Paris, and afterwards in the Collège Montaigu, where his attention was attracted to Oriental languages. Shortly after leaving the college he published a Traduction du commentaire du Rabbin Abraham Aben Esra sur l'ecclésiaste. In 1711 Louis XIV. appointed Fourmont to assist a young Chinese, Hoan-ji, in compiling a Chinese grammar. Hoan-ji died in 1716, and it was not until 1737 that Fourmont published Meditationes Sinicae and in 1742 Grammatica Sinica. He also wrote Réflexions critiques sur les histoires des anciens peuples (1735), and several dissertations printed in the Mémoires of the Academy of Inscriptions. He became professor of Arabic in the Collège de France in 1715. In 1713 he was elected a member of the Academy of Inscriptions, in 1738 a member of the Royal Society of London, and in 1742 a member of that of Berlin. He died at Paris on the 19th of December 1745.

His brother, Michel Fourmont (1690-1746), was also a member of the Academy of Inscriptions, and professor of the Syriac language in the Royal College, and was sent by the government to copy inscriptions in Greece.

An account of Etienne Fourmont's life and a catalogue of his works will be found in the second edition (1747) of his Réflexions critiques.

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

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