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: Samuzshura Zulkilabar
Country: Turkmenistan
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Marketing
Published (Last): 26 May 2015
Pages: 57
PDF File Size: 3.51 Mb
ePub File Size: 18.37 Mb
ISBN: 973-1-88621-585-4
Downloads: 32300
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Gur

Chinese history is an exemplar of exceptionalism and the Chinese language entirely wrold to this pattern. 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?

The final section deals with the current state of the most spoken languages in the world and some speculation regarding their future. Jul 10, Jee Koh rated it really liked it. All that said, this was a dry book about a totally fascinating subject, and if you’re interested enough in the subject, you’ll put up with reading the book. 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 it.

It may not always remain so. In books of such scope, one is always wary that the author cheats a little here, a little there, making small mistakes where his competence might fail empiires in a work covering the complete history of language spread of the whole human race, such instances are inevitable, even if the author possesses a working knowledge of 26 languages, as the back cover rather preposterously claims. 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 wmpires at all.


Third is Hindi with million and fourth Spanish, with million. Argi jos plitimo niekas ostleg Hell, I’m not sure I’m that interested in the subject matter, and I happily read a whole book about the alphabet. Microcosm or Distorting Mirror? A culture which can write can send orders for spices across oceans and orders to march across continents.

No trivia or quizzes yet. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.

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. But which languages, a millennium from now, will still be prospering, which will be the dominant global languages, and which will be the lingua franca? Sign up here to receive your FREE alerts.

He lives in Bath, England. The Germanic languages don’t have a good success rate.

Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

Nick Ostler has this tendency, also, to latch on to small bits of evidence and make much of it. Ultimately, the book was fascinating, massive in scope, highly informative and well-researched, and a hell of a slog. 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 qua If you read only one book on diachronic sociolinguistics, make it this one.


Otherwise, the expansion of languages, notably the great Asian languages, has been organic rather than by force. Published June 27th by Harper Perennial first published February 21st 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 in the world today.

Refresh and try again.

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

A long and a bit over-laborious comparison between the ‘careers’ of Egyptian and Chinese: You get used to learning the history of the world through the lens of empire. The most interesting sections, to me, were the final two chapters, where he assesses the status of the current top 20 languages, and then qorld where we might be headed linguistically as a species. Carpe diem, gentle readers, carpe diem! Phoenician did not catch on, proving that commerce alone is no guarantee of preserving a language.

The spread of language was generally an integral part of the imperial, “civilising” mission. While it is a history of languages, it is at the same time a history of the cultures and civilisations from which they sprang.