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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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. Here are some of the more noteworthy concepts: The Greek language continued to thrive for more than years largely because it was held in esteem by learned Romans.
The Muslim invasions of the Indian subcontinent starting in Gazhni, Afghanistan in the 10th century and culminating in the Mughal empire after are also surveyed. This just wasn’t compelling, despite in the abstract sounding like nichokas slam dunk wofld me. Ostelr hell of a lot more credible than Guns Germs and Steel.
Phonologically, it stands out by the presence of retroflex stops, a substrate from Dravidian speakers invaded by the Aryans. 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.
There is Sanskrit, which spread from northern India across the sub-continent, largely on the back of Hinduism, and then – though no one quite knows how – to southeast Asia. The narrative is not one of a triumphal march; rather, it is a subtle plotting of the rise and fall of languages, and so puts the current prevalence empirds English in much-needed perspective. 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.
Microcosm or Distorting Mirror? As a result, Brazil went from havinginhabitants into ostoer, in and more than million today. Sanskrit as one of the few ‘world’ languages mostly spread through scholarship and education rather than by sword. Language is the tie that binds us and forms our minds and societies, and by viewing the ebb and flow of its empires we glimpse the flow not merely of peoples and levers of power but of the very bedrock of our niicholas of expression.
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.
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 and 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.
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. The narrative is not one of a triumphal march; rather, it is a subtle plotting of the rise and fall of languages, and so puts the current prevalence of English in much-need Ostler’s erudition is encyclopedic. Quotes from Empires of the Wo Ostler claims that today’s mega-status of English to the extent when knowing the language is in itself a commodity is less due to America’s dominant position in the world than is usually thought, and most of the groundwork had been done by the British indeed, apart from the US, the largest English-language countries – India, Australia, NZ, South Africa – are still mostly within the British linguistic sphere.
Indeed, the willingness to stay and farm rather than merely seek treasure is partly what distinguishes English as an empire-builder.
These languages have built empires. How did English, with its multiple parents, spread so rapidly and pervasively? In these places, English tended to become an elite language, and it remains a language of aspiration to this day. Ostler points out that in this period nicgolas major language shift from Off to Latin occurred in western Europe due to military conquest and that this is at the root of the misleading conception that what changes languages is only control backed by military and economic strength.
He has some really interesting insights on all sorts of things, like why Germanic tribes managed to conquer half the Roman Empire but didn’t impose their languages anywhere whereas the Arab conquests only a few hundred years later led to permanent linguistic change across almost all of their territories, and his ending discussion of the evolution and future of English osttler probably worth the price of the book right there.
As it turns out, it’s a really complex issue. Why do some flourish, like Chinese or English? Cultures can write and thereby teach their neighbours The very fact of being able to write enables a culture to take on ostle sense of itself across time and space.
Of course in a book of this scope–nothing less than world wide–there is no way to discuss Wow, this book covers a lot of ground and a lot of history. Always challenging, always instructive—at times, even startling or revolutionary. Spanish rigidity, cupidity and nichloas French admiration empiees rationality; andEnglish admiration for business acumen.
Jun 04, kingshearte rated it liked it Shelves: Codified 2, years ago and barely changed since, this was a language that took great pleasure in its own beauty, which was intimately bound up with an Indian worldview, but which was ultimately to ossify to such an extent that today, although still an official language of India, it is spoken by fewer thanpeople.
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World
All by himself, rhe wrote this handy one-volume language history of the world, ranging from Sumerian, Akkadian and Aramaic in the ancient world to English in our contemporary scene, discussing Egyptian, Chinese, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Spanish, and Russian in the course of his immense story.
Return to Book Page. Languages follow something like Darwin’s law of evolution: One of the ways of making history books interesting is usually to make them personal, by telling of specific people and their specific experiences, and that’s just not possible with a book like this, the same way it is with a book with a narrowe This book has achieved the somewhat dubious accomplishment of being both very interesting and rather dry.
View yhe 3 comments. I had been d It sent a shiver down my spine to read snippets of poetry written in Sumeria thousands of years ago. The Second Death of Latin. Open Preview See a Problem?
Published June 27th by Harper Perennial first published February 21st But English and other European languages are no longer viewed as symbols of colonial domination, and instead are seen as crucial for success in business –which could boost longevity.
Chinese history is an exemplar of exceptionalism and the Chinese language entirely conforms to this pattern.
Review: Empires of the Word by Nicholas Ostler | Books | The Guardian
Besides these epic ahievements, language failures are equally fascinating: Chinese civilisation is highly centred and averse to disunity; like Egyptian civilisation, it owed allegiance to an emperor who enjoyed a “mandate from heaven”; and the sheer density of population in its heartlands during ancient times largely prevented “swamping” by other languages. Charming Like a Creeper: Even English as the world science language may fail to save it, because science appeals to a small minority of speakers.
While setting up shop in Carthage and trading around the Meditarrenean, Phoenicians spread an alphabet rhe off of Egyptian hieroglyphs from which the Greek and Latin ones would derive.