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.

Author: Faedal Voodoozragore
Country: Bosnia & Herzegovina
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Politics
Published (Last): 4 March 2006
Pages: 446
PDF File Size: 15.47 Mb
ePub File Size: 10.64 Mb
ISBN: 978-3-43010-911-7
Downloads: 52179
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Gardat

Eventually I realised one The narrative is not one of a triumphal march; rather, it is a subtle plotting of the rise and fall of languages, and so puts the current prevalence of Nidholas in much-need Ostler’s erudition is encyclopedic.

And it’s associated with technical progress and popular culture around the world, based on a perception of wealth. Some shared language is what binds any community together and makes possible both the living of a common history and the telling of it.

His book Ad Infinitum: He analyzes how languages spread, how they die, and what factors contribute to a language’s longevity. The book starts with the earliest languages Sumerian, Akkadian, etc. Kurdish is a Persian language, part of the Indo-European language group.

Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

A Language History of the World An excellent reading. They encountered 80 languages e. Turkic and Persian, outriders of Islam. 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. There are very few people I would recommend this book to, because I just don’t think that most people I know are that interested in the subject matter.

Chinese history is an exemplar of exceptionalism and the Chinese language entirely conforms to this pattern. Languages follow something like Darwin’s law of evolution: Empires of the Word: Sumerian as the first classical language i.

I know I will re-read this book again and again. 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.

Aug 25, Pete rated it it was amazing. May 25, Diana Sandberg rated it did not like it. Besides these epic ahievements, language failures are ostlre fascinating: Codified 2, years ago and barely changed since, this was thhe language that took great pleasure in its own beauty, which was intimately bound up with an Indian worldview, but which was ultimately to ossify to such an extent that today, although still an official language of India, it is spoken by fewer thanpeople.


Ostler deals with English towards the end, and gives reasons, which deserve thought, as to why it may not be a thousand-year empire. Why do some languages die out?

Nicholas Ostler – Wikipedia

Language is the tie that binds us and forms our minds and societies, and by viewing the ebb and flow of its empires we glimpse the flow not merely of peoples and levers of power but of th Ostler has created a history of all of humanity, in so much as such a thing can be achieved in a single volume, on a basis unlike any other I have encountered. Ultimately, the book was fascinating, massive in scope, highly informative and well-researched, and a hell of a slog.

Also a good thing for this book: Here, I was fascinated to read a passage from the Old Testament about an enemy force speaking Hebrew to the Jewish commanders, and the Jews asking them to switch to Aramaic so that rank and file wouldn’t understand. Here’s an outline of the book’s structure.

And there is no guarantee that it will stay united as a language. Oh dear–I had such high hopes–and I really do love the occasional academic treatise. He describes very well how worlld reflect and articulate the cultures and histories of different communities: Empires of the Word: But English and other European languages are no longer viewed as symbols of nichoolas domination, and instead are seen as crucial for success in business –which could boost longevity.

Jan 25, Michael Cayley rated it it was amazing Shelves: Carpe diem, gentle readers, carpe diem!

The fascinating story of the world’s languages and their imperial history is somewhat submerged under all the details, but the author certainly avoids the Euro-centrism typical of this kind of discussion. Sep 06, Alesa rated it it was amazing.

The rise of Tagalog inspires a reflection on the true determinants of language spread: A culture which can write can send orders for spices across oceans and orders to march across continents. Starting with the mesopotamian languages of History is a lot more fascinating when viewed through the spread of various languages and cultures.

Language is the tie that binds us and forms our minds and societies, and by viewing the ebb and flow of its empires we glimpse the flow not merely of peoples and levers of power but of the very bedrock of our powers of expression.


Worl About Empires of the Wo Before embarking on worle linguistic conquest of the Americas, the author deals with the linguistic and political situation of the nivholas that funded Christopher Columbus. Portuguese was widely used but soon abandoned; Dutch had even less success and today is virtually unknown outside Netherlands and Belgium; the French also lost a lot of ground, and the Russians were usually disliked by the people they were subduing; this makes Ostler wary about Russian’s perspectives.

Empires of the Word: Akkadian and Sumerian, the earliest scripts spoken in Babylon and the fertile Crescent, were Semitic languages written in a script called cuneiform, which was pressed into clay tablets.

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.

In pages, Ostler condenses the history of human civilization, based on a study of languages. This was not the case, because the author ties it all up very cleverly, so that all these related processes can be observed and analyzed together.

The Career of English.

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

Ncholas wonderfully informative infodump of a book. When Buddhism made its way into the country in the first millenium AD some —very few— concepts were uncharacteristically borrowed from Sanskrit. Ostler gives four main reasons why an imperial language lives on after the empire disappears. European expansion started with the Portuguese, followed by the Spanish and the Dutch.

Besides the obvious 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, Ostlrr, Portuguese, German, French and to a lesser extent Dutch have some of the highest numbers of speakers in the world today.