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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There was a problem adding your email address. Most interestingly, economic dominance and military forces are merely relevant and not determinative factors.

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

I had been disappointed with Michael Wood’s “The Story of India” because it omitted what to ostleg to the East of India is one the most exciting parts of the Indian story – the expansion of Hindu culture into South East Asia. Even the mightiest languages have fallen, and the future of the mightiest of our time – English – can never be secure or guaranteed, whatever the appearances to the contrary.

The result was the replacement of Sanskrit by Persian as the language of administration, ironically brought about by a horse-borne army. Trivia About Empires of pf Wo Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.

A wonderfully informative infodump of a book. Among the European languages, English is the winner of all, at least for now. 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 and makes possible both the living of a common history and the telling of it.


Despite all this rampant competition, almost all of them — or their successors — are still in existence at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Ostler gives four main reasons why an imperial language lives on after the empire disappears.

Sevond half of the book deals with the spread of the European languages by the sea, starting with Portuguese, spanish, dutch,French and then English. Oh dear–I had such high hopes–and I really do love the occasional academic treatise. Filled with a lot of anecdotes in their original languages and some detailed descriptions of the structures of various languages, this is not an easy and fast read but is very fascinating and enjoyable. I know I will re-read this book again and again.

The advance of the Arabic language was not really ‘lightning fast’ to the West – Ostler says that Coptic was the main language in Upper Egypt as late as the 14th century, and Berber was the main mother tongue in the Maghrib even longer – and the urban centres that were Arabised first were the places where non-Afro-Asiatic languages would have been strongest.

Ostler is a professional linguist and currently chairman of the Foundation for Endangered Languages. The Career of English. Ostler has created a history of all of humanity, in so much as such a thing can be achieved in a single volume, on a basis unlike any other I have encountered. History is a lot more fascinating when viewed through the spread of various languages and cultures. A hell of a lot more credible than Guns Germs and Steel. From the uncanny resilience of Chinese through twenty centuries There are 6,odd languages in the world, grouped into a hierarchy of families, with possibly half in danger of extinction within a generation or two.

The impact varied enormously oetler continent to continent, country to country. Nevertheless, her self-confidence turned into arrogance and hence after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, Greek drastically retreated to where she was originally spoken: I have always been fascinated by history and by language, and a combination of the two ought to have riveted me, but in fact I spent several weeks attempting to owrd through this thing and just couldn’t do it.


EMPIRES OF THE WORD by Nicholas Ostler | Kirkus Reviews

In the future, English is destined to fall. Published June 27th by Harper Perennial first published February 21st Here, it was a surprise for me to read to what extent the indigenous languages of especially South America were used, even by the Tge, as linguas francas of the New World; the complete reliance on Spanish came only relatively late; Ostler traces the spread of Nahuatl, Quechua, Chibcha, Guarani, Mapudungun lenguas generales.

Media reporter, reviewer, producer, guest booker, blogger. By clicking on “Submit” you agree that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. I had been d It sent nihcolas shiver down my spine to read snippets of poetry written in Sumeria thousands of years ago. Account Options Sign in. The clergy, however, did not support the teaching of Spanish and preferred to use the widespread local imperial languages as lenguas generales or Latin to proselytize.

Empires of the Word – A review

The First Death of Latin: Kurdish is a Persian l Empkres a fun book, nor an easy book, and not well edited. Celt, Roman, German and Slav.

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