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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As far as I know this approach to language or is original, and for me the book was an eye-opener. 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 oster of 26 languages, as the back cover rather preposterously claims.

The arrival of the Spanish on the new continent represented a confrontation of peoples separated by tens of empirew of years of independent development and resulted in truly massive loss of native population probably in the million range at its height due to smallpox, typhus, influenza, diphtheria and measles.


Literacy has proved a potent cultural weapon, of course. And there is no guarantee that it will stay united as a language.

Eventually I realised one The Goths dismembered the Roman Empire, but they still spoke the vernacular forms of Latin. And because I am fascinated with language and linguistics, I’m very glad I persevered and finished the book. I myself have been known to say “OMG” out loud, and that’s just one example that I really don’t think would have occurred without those writing technologies.

If you like languages, you will love this. Here’s an outline of the book’s structure. Jul 10, Jee Koh rated it really liked it.

However, this had little effect in practice smpires it was only after they discovered Brazil on 22 April that the Portuguese established a foothold in South America. While Indian linguistics was aimed at preserving the details of religious texts through formal analyses of grammar and phonology, Greek linguistics was applied to the effective use ostlwr language for persuasion e.


It may re-emerge as many dialects, like those spoken in Jamaica and Singapore. No language can touch it for global coverage.

Empires of the Word – A review

Provides a clear picture why a language becomes widely used. Arabic which unabashedly spread the language with deadly sword and fervent faith.

His Empires are those of the mind, and I would hazard that they reveal more about us og the more superficial customary treatments of kings and armies. He has some really interesting insights on all sorts of things, like why Germanic ostelr 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 is probably worth the price of the book right there.

Ostler traces the histories of these languages as their civilizations followed the turns of the Nile River from the Old Kingdom to the Late Period and those of Huang-he and Yangtze Kiang from the feudal period to the Song dynasty. Oct 18, Facundo Martin rated it it was amazing. Nicholas Ostler tell us this story in a way that both tells how it happened and attempts to explain why the culture was so attractive – an account that for me was one of the high points of the book. Higher education History books Language reviews.

From inside the book.

Empires of the Word

Other editions – View all Empires of the Word: Aug 04, Matthijs Krul rated it it was amazing. 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.

What languages have survived millennia or have spread across continents, and why?

One day he’ll stop, but I may have to clout him over the head with something fierce to help him see reason. Argi jos plitimo niekas nesustabdys? Besides the obvious improvements in shipbuilding and nautical knowledge and equipment, the period oetler 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.


In the future, English is destined to fall. A splendid, authoritative, and remarkable work, it demonstrates how the language history of the world eloquently reveals the real character of our planet’s diverse peoples and prepares us for a linguistic future full of surprises. Account Options Sign in.

As the technological and cultural dominance of America has consolidated the From our modern perspective, Hitler’s attempt to build himself an empire is horrible, incredibly egotistical, and entirely unacceptable.

Why do people learn some languages more easily than others? In the short final section, Ostler surveys the current language map, and offers some tentative conclusions. Half a dozen spiritual revelations nichollas offered themselves as universal truths in the past years, and most of them are still in contention.

The narrative follows roughly the chronological line.

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

British scholar Ostler chair of the Foundation for Endangered Languages notes that there are as many as 7, language communities in the world, but many have relatively few speakers, and many have no written form.

Yet the history of the world’s great languages has been very little told Refresh and try again. A reader not well-acquainted with world history will struggle to handle the complex matrix of facts.

He analyzes how languages spread, how they die, and what factors contribute to a language’s longevity. English traffic on the Internet was recently exceeded by the total in other languages.

Looking at the history of world powers not in terms of political boundaries but of groups defined by