Thursday, 2 March 2017

Yesterday Over Our Evening Meal,

I made mention of a remarkable gentleman,

that I had read about in the morning, 86-year-old Riccardo Bertani, born to a family of farmers in Caprara, a small settlement in Reggio Emilia, Italy, he abandoned his study right after elementary school, he was always a “disaster” at both arithmetic and geometry, the young boy started working in the fields, like most of the men in his village, but soon realised he wasn’t much of a farmer either, since Riccardo’s father was a member of the Communist party and former mayor of the village, most of the books in his house where he grew up were Russian tomes, even though he didn’t understand the language, he was fascinated by them, He started looking up authors like Lev Tolstoy, reading their works in Italian, and then using a Russian grammar book to learn the original language they had been written in, for some reason, he was attracted to Eastern countries like Russia and the Ukraine and for the next 18 years he did nothing but translate whatever books he could find from those countries, and after diving deeper into their culture, he discovered all these different Siberian people, Mongolians, Eskimos, and developed a taste for rare and extinct languages, ever since he was a young boy, he had a thing for dawn, “For years, I would wake up at two in the morning and wait for the sun to rise. During those hours, my brain seemed to function better, I had a clear mind, so I started to pass the time studying,” Bertani told Italian newspaper La Repubblica, as he got older, that schedule became a bit too tough, but even at 86-years-old he still wakes up at five in the morning to see the sunrise and study his beloved languages, 

Bertani’s fascination with languages may have started with Russian and Ukrainian, but it eventually spread to over 100 lost and rare languages from all over the world, including Eskimo, Yakut, Yukaghir, Rutul, Etruscan, Prussian, Basque, Mongolian and many, many others, and the most fascinating thing about his experience, is that it is all documented, in 70 years of study, Riccardo Bertani has filled over 1,000 journals with translations, explanations and phonetic pronunciations of thousands of words from various languages, interestingly enough, Riccardo does not speak English, German or other modern languages, but test his knowledge of Yakut or Etruscan and you’re in for a big surprise!

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