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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But all of these criteria have exceptions: A Language History of the World An thr reading. As in business, it is evident that merger and acquisition can outpace organic growth.

The Nature of Wprld History. From our modern perspective, Hitler’s attempt to build himself an empire is horrible, incredibly egotistical, and entirely unacceptable. Sign up here to receive your FREE alerts. Greeks’ indifference towards other languages. A scholar with a working nocholas of twenty-six languages, Nicholas Ostler has degrees from Oxford University in Greek, Latin, philosophy, and economics, and a Ph.

Sanskrit as one of the few ‘world’ languages mostly spread through scholarship and education rather than by sword. We see the flow of conceptual frameworks and the means of expressing and constraining them.

Nick Ostler has this tendency, also, to latch on to small bits of evidence and make much of it. Languages mostly by Land and Languages mostly by Sea. This is an absolutely fascinating, dreadfully boring book.

The book starts with the earliest languages Sumerian, Akkadian, etc. Retrieved 26 July His book Ad Infinitum: European expansion started with the Portuguese, followed by the Spanish and the Dutch.


Which makes me pretty sure he’s got the rest right, too. It focuses on the top 20 languages, kind of a greatest hits album. Its written system dates back around 4, years and during that time it has changed remarkably little.


View all 6 comments. This is a great book. 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. 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.

These features might have very well made it impossible for any compromise to develop with the Altaic languages of the Mongolian hordes led by Ghengis Khan in the 13th century and the Manchus in the 17th which were of the agglutinant typeadding to Chinese cultural resilience.

Ostler’s erudition is encyclopedic. The reason why the English language became so dominant in its colonies in the United States, Australia and New Zealand was primarily because of large-scale migration from Britain. In fact, some evenings it acted as a sleep-aid, and next evening I would have to re-read thf pages that my dozy brain just hadn’t absorbed the previous day. It only survives to this day as Coptic, a Christian wprld language, but it left an important legacy.

Empires of the Word: History teaches us that the future will always be shaped in large part by the unexpected and the unknowable: From the uncanny resilience of Chinese through twenty centuries of invasions to the engaging self-regard of Greek and to the struggle 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.

However, this had empores effect in practice and it was only after they discovered Brazil on 22 April that the Portuguese established a foothold in South America. The rise of Tagalog inspires a reflection on the true determinants of language spread: I found it approachable and exhilarating and not in the least bit dry or politicised.


While successful now through its prestige in the former British Empire and its strong linkage with science and technology, it is increasingly becoming primarily a second language while first-language speakers gradually become less of a majority in their own countries. Media reporter, reviewer, producer, guest booker, blogger. Kurdish is a Persian language, part of the Indo-European language group. Ostler divides language spread into two periods, before and after Spanish in the New World.

The Career of English. Jun 04, kingshearte rated it liked it Shelves: He’s usually clear that he’s doing this; he says, “We don’t This is an absolutely fascinating, dreadfully boring book. No trivia or quizzes yet.

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

Some shared language is what binds any community together and makes possible both the living of a common history and the telling of it. Turkic and Persian, outriders of Islam.

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 empirew would have been nice. There is no other case in history of a change in writing technology inducing a change in popular speech.

When Buddhism made its way into the country in the first millenium AD some —very few— concepts were uncharacteristically borrowed from Sanskrit. If oatler at all interested in how dominant languages have spread and evolved, and how they impacted the linguistic development of all other languages in their regions, then stay away.

May 01, Chris Fellows rated it it was amazing.