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.
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His book Empires of the Word: In Spain, Castilian, Galician and Catalan shared the language scene and Castilian came to dominate after the alliance between Castile and Aragon.
Looking at the history of world powers not in terms of political boundaries but of groups defined by May 26, Mario Russo rated it it was amazing Shelves: After reading it you will never think of language in the same way again – and you will probably think of the world, and its future, in a rather different way too.
These tablets were sometimes fired, but for economic emplres large volumes of text, such as records of state, were simply dried and stacked in libraries. After empirex brief introduction on the nature of language history, the first half of the book deals with the language spread by land. It only survives to this day as Coptic, a Christian liturgical language, but it left an important legacy. Aug 25, Pete rated it it was amazing. The final section deals with the current state of the most spoken languages in the world and some speculation regarding their future.
It’s an admirable goal, but I don’t think that it really worked as intended. The Greek language continued to thrive for more than years largely because it was held in esteem by learned Romans.
Ostler studied at Balliol College, Oxfordwhere he received degrees in GreekLatinphilosophy, and economics.
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler
Jun 04, kingshearte rated it liked it Shelves: And Aramaic held out among Christian and other nicohlas minorities that did not have the constant influence of the Qur’an on their vernacular. Language is the tie that binds us and forms our minds and societies, and by viewing the ebb and flow of its nichplas we glimpse the flow not merely of peoples and levers of power but of the very bedrock of our powers of expression.
Retrieved 26 July A culture that can write becomes both more unified and potentially more organised in many ways. The focus is not on linguistic evolution – how vocabulary and grammar of languages have developed – but on the relationship of languages to political, economic, cultural and societal history. osyler
The book starts with the earliest languages Sumerian, Akkadian, etc. Sep 06, Alesa rated it it was amazing. Ostler’s ability worrld synthesize vast amounts of research is awe-inspiring, and his obvious love for certain languages he has a real crush on Sanskrit, in particular carries over to the ostlef material in ways that only the best authors manage. It focuses on the top 20 languages, kind of a greatest hits album.
Wow, this book covers a lot of ground and a lot of history. Other defining characteristics are its tendency and capacity to produce puns as seen in its poetryits key role in the correct recitation of the Vedas, and its expansion without errasing other languages.
View all 6 comments. The chapter closes with an analysis of Spanish colonization of the Philippines nicholaas of how Spanish was replaced just when it was beginning to take root after the Spanish-American War Here’s an outline of the book’s structure.
Media reporter, reviewer, producer, guest booker, blogger. True, Hitler’s genocide was somewhat more efficient, and thus more horrific, than many others, but in terms of empire building, really, he was just a century or so too late for such things to be countenanced at all.
History is a lot more fascinating when viewed through the spread of various languages and cultures. If you read only one book on diachronic sociolinguistics, make it this one. Ostler by the hand in those instances where I generally could his review nicyolas the Russian language’s imperial thrust, for instance.
An impressive and sweeping view of the history of languages throughout human history. I also would have liked to read more about the languages that have developed in the shadow of the Chinese giant – there is very little on Japanese, less on Korean, and practically nothing about the languages of Indochina. Ultimately, the book was fascinating, massive in scope, highly informative and well-researched, and a hell of a slog.
Languages by Land 3. English achieved what some other European colonial languages did not in that it became a symbol of achievement in the colonies for educated natives. The most interesting sections, to me, were the final two chapters, where he assesses the status of the current top 20 languages, or then suggests where we might be headed linguistically as a species. The result was the replacement of Sanskrit by Persian as the language of administration, ironically brought about by a horse-borne army.
Chinese history is an exemplar of exceptionalism and the Chinese language entirely conforms to this pattern. Or will technology bring about the ”death of dialect,” making English more and more understandable to increasingly large swaths of the global population?
He’s usually clear that he’s doing this; he says, “We don’t really know, but this is the way that I think makes the story most interesting, and there is some evidence for it, so I’m going to choose to believe it was this way. European expansion started with the Portuguese, followed by the Spanish and the Dutch.
Empkres, a painful book, but here I am, reading it again already. His book Ad Infinitum: Besides the obvious improvements in shipbuilding and nautical knowledge and equipment, the period of Languages by Sea starts with the consolidation of new elites whose languages English, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, German, French and to a lesser extent Dutch have some of the highest numbers of speakers dorld the world today.
The maps are great. Much as I wouldn’t want to suggest he make this book any longer, a little more on that subject or a mention of why there couldn’t be more on that subject would have been nice.
This is a great book. Always challenging, always instructive—at times, even startling or revolutionary. Languages follow something like Darwin’s law of evolution: Of course in a book nocholas this scope–nothing less than world wide–there is no way to discuss all empirea many languages of mankind.
The Nature of Language History. This is a richly detailed work that goes through the rise and fall of more than a dozen of the world’s most influential languages while investigating the factors involved in their growth and death. His Empires are those of the mind, and I would hazard that they reveal more about us than the more superficial customary treatments of kings and armies. Greeks’ indifference towards other languages.