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One can safely assume that he spoke English since he was born in England. We may also safely assume that he understood Latin, since he wrote his main works in the language.

Greek and Hebrew would have been part of any normal curriculum of a biblical scholar, and Newton had a ferocious interest in finding the uncorrupted meanings of The Bible, as well as other religious books. He was obsessed with figuring out the exact measurements of the temples, because in Hindu texts, it says that if you get these exactly right, then the building can fly. As hard as he tried, he did not get a building to fly. We are still working on that.

He also cites Maimonides, which I think at that point proves a familiarity with Arabic, because the RAMBAM wrote only the Mishna Torah in Aramaic. The language had only started being taught at Cambridge two years before he arrived, so his timing may have been perfect to get a leg up on the original writings of the Golden Age of Islam that few others had. A previous scholar at Cambridge had acquired a significant library of Arabic texts, but could not master the language, and had focused on translating Old English texts instead. Old English and the English of the day are as different as Latin and Spanish.

Newton was careful to always limit his statements of his abilities to his being able to read Syriac. This is a dialect of Arabic used by the bilingual people of Syria, who spoke Arabic in their day to day lives, but who worshiped in Greek, which their priests could read.

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โˆ™ 2016-02-15 17:24:58
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Q: What languages did Isaac Newton speak?
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