“In a small town in the foothills of the Vosges [France], a six-year-old boy is visited by dreams in which he is taught a completely unknown language. Little Marc Liblin soon speaks this language fluently without knowing where it comes from or whether it even really exists.I found this curious story (boldface mine) in an interesting book entitled Atlas of Remote Islands, by Judith Schalansky. It's a short book you can read quickly in an evening, featuring images and one-page anecdotes about fifty islands around the world. The island I find most appealing for a "castaway" fantasy is this one - Tikopia (also in the south Pacific). Look at that beautiful lagoon in the old caldera:
He is a gifted but lonely child, with a thirst for knowledge. In his youth, he lives on books rather than on bread. At the age of thirty-three, he is an outsider living on the fringes of society when he comes to the attention of researchers from the University of Rennes. They want to decipher and translate his language. For two years, they feed the strange sounds he makes into giant computers. In vain.
Eventually, they decide to trawl through the bars by the harbour to see if any of the sailors on shore leave have ever heard the language before. In a bar in Rennes, Marc Liblin gives a solo performance, holding a monologue in front of a group of Tunisians. The barkeeper, a former navy man, interrupts and says he has heard this tongue before, on one of the most remote Polynesian islands [Rapa Iti, pictured above]. And he knows an elderly lady who speaks it; she is divorced from an army officer and now lives in a council estate in the suburbs.
The meeting with the Polynesian woman changes Liblin’s life. When Meretuini Make opens the door, Marc greets her in his language, and she answers straight away in the old Rapa of her homeland. Marc Liblin, who has never been outside Europe, marries the only woman who understands him, and in 1983 he leaves with her for the island where his language is spoken.”
Rapa Iti image from Satellite Imaging Corporation; Tikopia via Wikipedia.