Nicholas Ostler’s Empires of the Word is the first history of the world’s great tongues, gloriously celebrating the wonder of words that binds communities together. Nicholas Ostler is a British scholar and author. Ostler studied at Balliol College, Oxford, where His book Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World documents the spread of language throughout recorded human history. Yet the history of the world’s great languages has been very little told. Empires of the Word, by the wide-ranging linguist Nicholas Ostler, is the.

Author: Vudobei Shaktill
Country: Martinique
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Spiritual
Published (Last): 28 September 2013
Pages: 414
PDF File Size: 1.35 Mb
ePub File Size: 17.29 Mb
ISBN: 173-4-62931-434-6
Downloads: 55077
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Gujora

London and New York, Tends toward the academic. From the uncanny resilience of Chinese through twenty centuries of invasions to the engaging self-regard of Greek and to the struggles that gave birth to the wotld of modern Europe, these epic achievements and more are brilliantly explored, as are the fascinating failures of once “universal” languages. Of course in a book of this scope–nothing less than world wide–there is no way to discuss all empirs many languages of mankind.

The Adventures of Greek.

Some shared language is what binds any community together and makes possible both the living of a common history and the telling of it. Open Preview See a Problem? Why did German get left behind?

Nicholas Ostler does not adopt a narrowly linguistic approach – based on the structure of languages and their evolution – but nicholws looks at the history of languages, the reasons for their rise and, as a thw, also their fall. This, together with the fact that almost all the conquistadores had children in the New World, accounts for the prevailingly mestizo population prior to colonial independence—the minority white colonial-born criollos were the ruling class.


The Second Death of Latin. Argi jos plitimo niekas nesustabdys? Oh dear–I had such high hopes–and I really do love the occasional academic treatise.

Nicholas Ostler

If you, like me, are interested in linguistics and big-picture world history, this is the book. Kurdish is a Persian l Not a fun book, nor an easy book, and not well edited.

Nicholas OstlerHarper Collins. He proceeds to relate a history of the world as a linguist would see it. Empires of the Word: Romance languages include all of the obvious countries, plus duh! The potential to overrun others is not the benison to a language that one might think, though.

With this book, Ostler provides a strong argument against the label ‘dead language’ so often assigned to Latin. And because I am fascinated with language and linguistics, I’m very glad I persevered and finished the book.

However, the title, ‘Ad Infinitum,’ refers not to this, but to his thesis that the Latin-speaking world was unconscious of its own limits, looking always back to its centre, rather than outwards. As this book splendidly and authoritatively reveals, the language history of the world shows eloquently the real character of peoples; and, for all the recent tehnical mastery of English, nothing guarantees our language’s long-term preeminence.

A final section looks at factors which may affect the relative importance of different languages in coming decades. The spread of language was generally an integral part of the imperial, “civilising” mission. They were similar in that barbarian was essentially used to describe those not of the civilized center; different in that the Greek version didn’t waste much time categorizing barbarian qualities, whereas the Chinese had a more nuanced typography of barbaric attributes.

But with the present rise of China – and indeed India – it would not be difficult to imagine Mandarin and Hindi becoming far more widely spoken by What are the most dominant languages today?


Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

His book Empires of the Word: But a stunning achievement nonetheless. Carpe diem, gentle readers, carpe diem! There are obviously many fascinating languages that don’t appear or get short shrift. And it’s associated with technical progress and popular culture around the world, based on a perception of wealth.

EMPIRES OF THE WORD by Nicholas Ostler | Kirkus Reviews

Maybe linguistic diversity is desirable in the way genetic diversity is, but maybe after languages multiplied as humans populated every corner of the earth the opposite trend is taking place with globalization? Jul 29, Wanda rated it liked it Shelves: And, I was carried away by his thesis that the rate of language adoption is strongly influenced by the degree of similarity in structure between the learner’s language and the new language, but on reflection afterward the evidence for it is pretty slim.

The Germanic languages don’t have a good success rate. At the top of the league table is Mandarin Chinese, which has 1, million speakers, more than twice as many as the next highest, English, with million.

He lives in Bath, England. The chapter closes with an analysis of Spanish colonization of the Philippines and of how Spanish was replaced just when it was beginning to take root after the Spanish-American War The very fact of being able to write enables a culture to take on a sense of itself across time and space.