Last year I reported on James Murray’s letter of application to the British Museum Library, which did not get the future editor of the OED a job despite his acquaintance with “the Romance tongues, Italian, French, Catalan, Spanish, Latin & in a lesser degree Portuguese, Vaudois, Provencal, & various dialects… Dutch …, Flemish, German, Danish… Anglo-Saxon and Moeso-Gothic… Celtic… Sclavonic… Persian, Achaemenian Cuneiform, & Sanscrit… Hebrew and Syriac… to a less degree… Aramaic Arabic, Coptic and Phenician.” Now I find the following remarkable passage in an obituary quoted in a Transblawg post: “He could have aspired to a professorial chair—after all, he had even written on word formation in Gothic, an extinct language, mastery of which was once deemed essential to academic preferment in London…” So we learn that Gothic, though clearly not sufficient (vide supra), was a necessary job qualification in the Good Old Days! Ah, to have lived in those times, when philology was valued as the Queen of Sciences…
By the way, Margaret finishes her post with this splendid correction:
In case anyone else looks at the obituary, there is an error in the use of italics: ‘His translation of Beton appeared as Concrete with Dent‘ should read ‘His translation of Beton appeared as Concrete, published by Dent’.
Concrete with Dent: now, there’s an intriguing title!