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Empires of the Word : A Language History of the World (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Nicholas Ostler

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1,030238,227 (3.93)64
Member:charles.lemos
Title:Empires of the Word : A Language History of the World
Authors:Nicholas Ostler
Info:New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c2005.
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:History, Linguistics, Language

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Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler (2005)

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
I think this a superior production, and Mr. Ostler seems to know his business. There are even some hints about how a tongue can connive towards its own longevity. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Aug 15, 2014 |
Seemingly exhaustive survey of the history of languages around the world. Written mostly for the expert. I, being only mildly interested in the topic, soon got bogged down. A more popular version of this book (without all the niggly detail) could have been written in 300 pages rather than 560! The parts I did understand, I enjoyed and will admit to skimming a lot of the rest, thankful that there was not a test at the end! ( )
  lothiriel2003 | Jun 15, 2014 |
Fascinating account of the development of world languages. The best overview I have found - detailed and knowledgeable without being dry. ( )
  melissagemmerjohnson | Feb 4, 2014 |
a world history through the major languages. Just my kind of tome: learned but written in a worn-lightly way. The languages come across almost like living people. The section on Greek is especially fascinating. Witty ironies here and there about what makes languages, cultures, powers survive or fade. Think Oswald Spengler or Arnold Toynbee if they'd tried to do standup at the Ed Fringe. ( )
  vguy | Sep 2, 2013 |
An impressive and sweeping view of the history of languages throughout human history. It tackles some of the big questions: Why do some languages die out? Why do some flourish, like Chinese or English?

As it turns out, it's a really complex issue. The book starts with the earliest languages (Sumerian, Akkadian, etc.) and moves all the way up through the colonial and modern eras, and speculates on the rise and fall of our languages in the future.

This is dense, but fascinating stuff. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
It’s a history of all languages – some have called it a macro-history. The ambition of this book is really extraordinary. There have been lots of histories of English, and there are lots of histories of other languages in those languages, but actually to try and write a history of the whole of language is an incredibly audacious thing, and Ostler pulls it off.
 
A marvelous book, learned and instructive.
 
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.
 
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The strength of a person is in his intelligence and his tongue.
(Arabic proverb)
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To Jane
SINE QVA NON
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On 8 November 1519 Hernán Cortés and a band of three hundred Spaniards met for the first time the supreme ruler of Mexico.
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[Back cover] 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. From the uncanny resilience of Chinese through twenty centuries of invasions to the engaging self-regard of Greek and to the struggles that gave birth to the languages of modern Europe, these epic achievements and more are brilliantly explored, as are the fascinating failures of once "universal" languages. 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.

A scholar with a working knowledge of twenty-six languages, Nicholas Ostler has degrees from Oxford University in Greek, Latin, philosophy, and economics, and a Ph.D. in linguistics from MIT, where he studied under Noam Chomsky. He lives in Bath, England.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060935723, Paperback)

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. From the uncanny resilience of Chinese through twenty centuries of invasions to the engaging self-regard of Greek and to the struggles that gave birth to the languages of modern Europe, these epic achievements and more are brilliantly explored, as are the fascinating failures of once "universal" languages. 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:30 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"The story of the world in the last five thousand years is above all the story of its languages. 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 first to bring together the tales in all their glorious variety: the amazing innovations in education, culture, and diplomacy devised by speakers of Sumerian and its successors in the Middle East, right up to the Arabic of the present day; the uncanny resilience of Chinese through twenty centuries of invasions; the charmed progress of Sanskrit from north India to Java and Japan; the engaging self-regard of Greek; the struggles that gave birth to the languages of modern Europe; and the global spread of English."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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