George Psalmanazar (1679? – 3 May 1763) claimed to be the first Formosan to visit Europe. For some years he convinced many in Britain, but was later revealed to be an impostor. He later became a theological essayist and a friend and acquaintance of Samuel Johnson and other noted figures of 18th-century literary London.
In 1704 Psalmanazar published a book entitled 'An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island subject to the Emperor of Japan' which purported to be a detailed description of Formosan customs, geography and political economy, but which was in fact a complete invention on Psalmanazar's part.
Psalmanazar's book also described the Formosan language and alphabet, which is significant for being an early example of a constructed language. His efforts in this regard were so convincing that German grammarians were including samples of his so-called "Formosan alphabet" in books of languages well into the 18th century, even after his larger imposture had been exposed.
In the last years of his life, Psalmanazar wrote the book upon which much of contemporary knowledge of him rests: Memoirs of ** ** , Commonly Known by the Name of George Psalmanazar; a Reputed Native of Formosa. The book was published posthumously. These memoirs omit his real birth name, which is still unknown, but they contain a wealth of detail about his early life and the development of his impostures.
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