Psalmanazar, George

Psalmanazar, George sălˌmənāˈzər [key], 1679?–1763, English literary imposter. His real name is not known. Born and educated in France, he developed a marked ability in learning languages. He traveled through Europe posing as a Japanese convert to Christianity. In Holland (1702) he was examined by William Innes, an English army chaplain who, though he penetrated Psalmanazar's pose, sent him to England as a Formosan convert in order to gain credit for the conversion. Psalmanazar was able without detection to publish An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa (1704), to invent a complete “Formosan” language, and to instruct Oxford students in the use of it. However, suspicions arose, and after 1706 he was forced to repudiate his claims. He scraped a meager living by literary hack work, became intensely religious, and wrote the story of his life and impostures, Memoirs of –––––– Commonly Known by the Name George Psalmanazar (1764).

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