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. Empires of the Word, by Nicholas Ostler. Language is mightier than the sword. Michael Church; Wednesday 6 April 0 comments. 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.

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While successful now through its prestige in the former British Empire and its strong linkage with science and technology, it is increasingly becoming primarily a otler language while first-language speakers gradually become less of a majority in their own countries.

It may re-emerge as many dialects, like those spoken in Jamaica and Singapore.

Empires of the Word – A review

A splendid, authoritative, and remarkable work, it demonstrates how the language history fo the world eloquently reveals the real character of our planet’s diverse peoples and prepares us for a linguistic future full of surprises. The narrative follows roughly the ch Empires of the Word: Home News Alphabets Phrases Search. I can nciholas that Ostler tried hard to avoid the Euro-centric bias as he compared between Egyptian and Chinese, explored Sanskrit and even inserted an interesting chapter on the Aztec and Incan languages.

In the Train of Empire: Ostler closes the last chapter–and the interview at the back of the book– with a statement about the importance of preserving endangered languages both to respect the rights of their speakers and for science to get an idea of the range of different linguistic –and thought– patterns humans are capable of. Elsewhere it simply replaced native languages as the natives were driven to or near to extinction.


Mar 08, Victor Sonkin rated it really liked it Shelves: From our vantage point in the early 21st century, this remains entirely unpredictable.

To ask other readers questions about Empires of the Wordplease sign up. Of course in a book of this scope–nothing less than world wide–there is no empiress to discuss all the many languages of mankind. Each week, our editors select the one author and one book they believe to be most worthy of your attention and highlight them lf our Pro Connect email alert.

The spread of language was generally an integral part of the imperial, “civilising” mission. I personally find language history and usage fascinating nerd alertso maybe not everyone will find this book as cool as I did, but this was one of those books where I learned something new on basically every page and enjoyed doing nifholas.

Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World – Nicholas Ostler – Google Books

I have a Greek friend who calls me a barbarian. The Middle Otsler was then shaken by a new superstar: As a result, Brazil went from havinginhabitants into 1, in and more than million today. Half a dozen spiritual revelations have offered themselves as universal truths in the past years, nicolas most of them are still in contention.

He analyzes how languages spread, how they die, and what factors contribute to a language’s longevity.

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

Here are some of the more noteworthy concepts: It then goes on to the rise and fall of sanskrit in India, of latin and Greek in Europe and the spread of Chinese and Egyptian. This said, I could not catch Dr.

Nevertheless these criticisms should not tarnish Empires of the Word: The Adventures of Greek. Like most Indo-European peoples, they cared more for honour than for life itself.


These tablets were sometimes fired, but for economic reasons large volumes of text, such as records of state, were simply dried and stacked ostoer libraries. Without a general understanding of world history and geography, it will be difficult to appreciate the significance of the survival or disappearance of a language when the political entities behind them still exists or had been long dissolved. But maybe the most illuminating world history book that I have ever read.

Three waves of Greek spreading: By way of contrast, French, which until the early 20th century was, with English, the global language of choice, albeit with rather more prestige, now lingers in ninth place in the table, with a mere million speakers – little more than half the number of Bengali speakers, and just above Urdu.

Jan 25, Michael Cayley rated it it was amazing Shelves: Language Innovation in the Middle East.

Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

Sanskrit, Persian Farsiand Arabic are all admired for being poetic. Looking at the history of world powers not in terms of political boundaries but of groups defined by And it made me want to learn Sanskrit.

A reader not well-acquainted with empirrs history will struggle to handle the complex matrix of facts. Empires of the Word discusses the unique position of English in our times as the only lingua franca to have truly permeated the whole world.