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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Spanish in the New World.

The advance of the Arabic language was not really ‘lightning fast’ to the West – Ostler says that Coptic was the main language in Upper Egypt as late as the 14th century, and Berber was the main mother tongue in the Maghrib even longer – and the urban centres that were Arabised first were the places where non-Afro-Asiatic languages would have been strongest.

As far as I know thi 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.

Ostler discusses how Latin died as a language capable of being used to think and communicate new ideas and how it oslter preserved by classicism as an archeological relic. And Aramaic held out among Christian and other religious minorities that did not have the constant influence of the Qur’an on their vernacular.

Nicholas OstlerHarper Collins.


Ostler deals with English towards the end, and gives reasons, which deserve thought, as to why it may not be a thousand-year th. After reading it you will never pstler of language in the same way again – and you will probably think of the world, and its future, in a rather different way too. Books by Nicholas Ostler. This book gave me an interesting perspective on Hitler, of all things maybe it’s because Mel Brooks had me thinking about him earlier this week.


Specifically the section about native indian is very informative.

Account Options Sign in. Ostler’s explanation for its longevity is interesting: This book delivers what was promised, despite the broad range of the topic “Language history of the world”.

The Greek language continued to thrive for more than years largely because it was held in esteem by learned Romans. One day he’ll stop, but I may have to clout him over the head with something fierce to help him see reason. Otherwise, the expansion of languages, notably the great Asian languages, has been organic owrld than by force.

View all 3 comments. This, together with the fact that almost all the conquistadores had children in the New World, accounts for the prevailingly mestizo population prior to colonial independence—the minority white colonial-born criollos were the ruling class.

While it is a history of languages, it is at the same time a history of the cultures and civilisations from which they sprang. Filled with a lot of anecdotes in their original languages and some detailed descriptions of the structures of various languages, this is not an easy and aorld read but is very fascinating and enjoyable. And it made me want to learn Sanskrit. Eventually I realised one 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.


Review: Empires of the Word by Nicholas Ostler | Books | The Guardian

Why do some languages die out? Of course in a book of this scope–nothing less than world wide–there is no way to discuss Wow, this book covers a lot of ground and a lot of history. Sign up here to receive your FREE alerts. Tends toward the academic. Nicholas Ostler does not adopt a narrowly linguistic approach – based on the structure of languages and their evolution – but instead looks at the history of languages, the reasons for their rise and, as a rule, also their fall. 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 odd piece of entertainment surprises the alert mind now and again. This just wasn’t compelling, despite in the abstract sounding like a slam dunk for me.

Here, Ostler reviews Besides the ostelr improvements in shipbuilding and nautical knowledge and equipment, the period of 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.

The story of the world in the last five thousand years is above all the story of its languages.