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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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.

It tackles some of the big questions: A Language History of the World. A Language History of the World.


May 26, Mario Russo rated it it was amazing Shelves: Likewise the languages whose histories this book has reviewed have been spreading in increasing circles for twice that period of time. Jan 15, Jeff rated it liked it Shelves: 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.

Sanskrit, Persian Farsiand Arabic are all admired ostlr being poetic. Ostler’s explanation for its longevity is interesting: This page was last edited on 10 Octoberat His book Empires of the Word: I enjoyed a short tangent the book took into a comparison of Greek and Chinese conceptions of the ‘barbarian’.

So English is more of a lingua franca than anything else. Nicholass a brief introduction on the nature of language history, the first half of the book deals with the language spread by land. Linguists from the United Kingdom Living people births.


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

But maybe the most illuminating world history book that I have ever read. 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.

From the uncanny resilience of Chinese through twenty centuries For me, this was probably not a good book to choose as a summer read–it is very academic in tone and is definitely not light as summertime reading usually is. This is a history of languages which have left written works or records – how and why they spread or went into decline, what causes languages to become dominant and so on.

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. The Greek language continued to thrive for more than years largely because it was held in esteem by learned Romans.

Somewhat as a side effect, it affords language enthusiasts an unconventional and highly enjoyable approach to the most rem [Except for the first and last paragraphs, this is more of a summary than a review: 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.

I had been disappointed with Michael Wood’s “The Story of India” because it omitted what to us to the East of India is one the most exciting parts of the Indian story – the expansion of Hindu culture into South East Asia.

In Ostler’s terms, Singapore has retained English for reasons of unity and globality. Inhe wrote the foreword for Navlipithe publication of a universal script that deals with phonemic idiosyncrasies inherent in all the world’s languages Works [ edit ] Empires of the Word: Phonologically, it stands out by the presence of retroflex stops, a substrate from Dravidian speakers invaded by the Aryans.


I found it approachable empired exhilarating and not in the least bit dry or politicised. So, a painful book, but here I am, reading it again already. Turkic and Persian worpd as auxiliary languages of Islamic civilization. This just wasn’t compelling, despite in the abstract sounding like a slam dunk for me. There is Nivholas, 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 book documents and explains the spread of the various Semitic languages of Mesopotamia, including Akkadian and Aramaic, examines the resilience of Chinese through the centuries, and looks into the differential expansion of Latin in both halves of the Roman Empire, along with the many other expansions of the world’s historical languages.

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

Harper CollinsMar 22, – History – pages. Here, it was a surprise for me to read to what extent the indigenous languages of especially South America were used, even by the Spanish, as linguas francas of kf New World; the complete reliance on Spanish came only relatively late; Ostler traces the spread of Nahuatl, Quechua, Chibcha, Guarani, Mapudungun lenguas generales.

And, I was carried away by his thesis that the rate of language adoption is strongly influenced by the degree of similarity ostper structure between the learner’s language and the new language, but on reflection afterward the evidence for it is pretty slim.

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