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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Mar 16, Hadrian rated it really liked it Shelves: Definitely best for the more alert reading times. The spread of language was generally an integral part of the imperial, “civilising” mission. Account Options Sign in. Argi jos plitimo niekas nesustabdys? The Nature of Language History. Ultimately, the book was fascinating, massive in scope, highly informative and well-researched, and a hell of a slog. If you’re at all interested in how dominant languages have spread and evolved, and how they impacted the linguistic development bicholas all other languages in their regions, then stay away.
Most interestingly, economic dominance and military forces are merely relevant and not determinative factors. 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 the New World; the complete reliance on Spanish came only relatively late; Ostler traces the spread of Nahuatl, Quechua, Chibcha, Guarani, Mapudungun lenguas generales.
Empires of the Word – A review
This heavy, sturdy text rests on a foundation of scholarship and erudition so broad and deep that it will elicit gasps of admiration from professional linguists and assorted logophiles, though its very complexity and comprehensiveness may overwhelm general readers. Jan 15, Jeff rated it liked it Shelves: Hindi when it is written in Devanagari and borrows words from Sanskrit and Urdu when it is written in Persian script and draws on Persian and Arabic.
Kurdish is a Persian language, part of the Indo-European language group.
Among the European languages, English is the winner of all, at least for now. Three waves of Greek spreading: The Second Death of Latin. Preview oc Empires of the Word by Nicholas Ostler.
EMPIRES OF THE WORD by Nicholas Ostler | Kirkus Reviews
Finally, the book is peppered throughout with lots of source-language citations for pretty much every language that he talks about. 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.
The book concentrates on those languages that have been – in some form or another – globally influential: 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. State and Church were intimately united and the importance attached to orthodoxy achieved through authority led to the creation if nicholss Inquisition in English has the good fortune of being first spread by the global British Empire and then being able to maintain her dominance through the most powerful nation in the world, the United States of America.
I learned a few things that I’d been curious about for a long time, like why did Ancient Egyptian cease to be spoken? May 01, Chris Fellows rated it it was amazing.
Even English as the world science language may fail to save it, because science appeals to a small minority of speakers. If you like this site and find it useful, you can support it by making a donationor by contributing in other ways. The final section deals with woed current state wofd the most spoken languages in the world and some speculation regarding their future.
It is quite telling of this division between Hinduism and Islam that the largest and most wide-spread language in India today goes under two names: Account Options Sign in. An alphabet can leap cultural boundaries and leave a language dying in its wake, taking on a life of its own.
There are many ways of recounting the history of the world – via the rise and fall of civilisations, the fortunes of nation states, socio-economic systems and patterns, the development of technology, or the chronology of war and military prowess. What Ostler has painted is not only a history of rises and declines of empires of words but a history of an ever-lasting empire of the different words and languages that will exist as long as humans still strive.
Although Romans destroyed the Greek land, Greek had conquered the Roman hearts and minds. This book delivers what was promised, despite the broad range of the topic “Language history of the world”. Chinese is often seen as a separate branch of the Sino-Tibetan family, being a tone language made up of monosyllabic words having no inflections —though these characteristics are shared by unralated languages like Thai.
Oh dear–I had such high hopes–and I really do love the occasional academic treatise. He proceeds to relate a history of the world as a linguist would see it.
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World
After a brief introduction, Ostler uses the first half of the book to describe the spread of languages, mainly by land, from the remotest past up to the Middle Ages. Indeed, the willingness to stay and farm rather than merely seek treasure is partly what distinguishes English as an empire-builder.
While Chinese encompasses a series of nucholas non-mutually intelligible languages e. Ostler by the hand in those instances where I generally could his review of the Russian language’s imperial thrust, for instance. Then Ostler tells us about the spread of Sanskrit through South-East Asia, which was not of military origin but rather came about due to a combination of trade, piratical raids and a desire to share a religious faith—the architecture of Shwe Dagon in Burma, Borobodur in Java and Angkor Wat in Cambodia bears witness to the Indian nivholas and through Central and eastern Asia in its Pali variant driven by the egalitarian Buddhism—a curious effect is to be found in the Nicolas syllabaries which follow the phonetically-inspired order of the letters in Indian alphabets.
As the technological and cultural dominance of America has consolidated the 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: The most interesting sections, to me, were the final two chapters, where he assesses the status of the current top 20 languages, and then suggests where we might In pages, Ostler condenses the history of human civilization, based on a study of languages.
History is a lot more fascinating when viewed through the spread of various languages and cultures. Yet the history of the world’s great languages has been very little told. Otherwise, the expansion of languages, notably the great Asian languages, has been organic rather than by force.