1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Guignes, Joseph de

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GUIGNES, JOSEPH DE (1721–1800), French orientalist, was born at Pontoise on the 19th of October 1721. He succeeded Fourmont at the Royal Library as secretary interpreter of the Eastern languages. A Mémoire historique sur l’origine des Huns et des Turcs, published by de Guignes in 1748, obtained his admission to the Royal Society of London in 1752, and he became an associate of the French Academy of Inscriptions in 1754. Two years later he began to publish his learned and laborious Histoire générale des Huns, des Mongoles, des Turcs et des autres Tartares occidentaux (1756–1758); and in 1757 he was appointed to the chair of Syriac at the Collège de France. He maintained that the Chinese nation had originated in Egyptian colonization, an opinion to which, in spite of every argument, he obstinately clung. He died in Paris in 1800. The Histoire had been translated into German by Dähnert (1768–1771). De Guignes left a son, Christian Louis Joseph (1759–1845), who, after learning Chinese from his father, went as consul to Canton, where he spent seventeen years. On his return to France he was charged by the government with the work of preparing a Chinese-French-Latin dictionary (1813). He was also the author of a work of travels (Voyages à Pékin, Manille, et l’île de France, 1808).

See Quérard, La France littéraire, where a list of the memoirs contributed by de Guignes to the Journal des savants is given.