Két Sheng has a post at Poemas del río Wang that discusses the propensity of some Renaissance writers to proclaim the stylistic similarity of their own languages to Hebrew (which of course was considered the original language of the Garden of Eden), ending as follows:
Pei Di thinks that the discovery that the translator’s own language is the closest one in its style and metaphors to the Hebrew, may have been general in this period. “If you regularly read 16th-century vernacular literature in more than one language, you will clearly see that their archaic way of speaking still used many metaphors in every vernacular. The contemporaries, however, usually knew only their own vernacular version to the extent to realize this, while the common school Latin was in fact poor in metaphors. This is why, when they discovered the richness of Hebrew figurative language, they may have felt that they found the closest relative of their own mother tongue, certainly in style, and perhaps also regarding its its origins.”
Was this idea, the stylistic closeness of the various vernaculars to Hebrew, really so widespread in the Renaissance? We want to ask for the help of the polyglot readers of Río Wang in this question. If you have ever encountered any contemporary declaration on the similarity between the Hebrew language and any Renaissance vernacular, please share it with us.
I thought it was a striking hypothesis and a good question, so I’m passing it along.