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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Also, the Jesuit-run reducciones offered protection from the encomiendas were both natives and African slaves were heavily exploited. Inhe wrote the foreword for Navlipithe publication of a universal script that deals with phonemic idiosyncrasies inherent in all dmpires world’s languages.

I was looking forward to this book — but it is much too pedantic.

The Current Top Twenty and gives some predictions about their future pstler. 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. Preview — Empires of the Word by Nicholas Ostler. Chinese civilisation is highly centred and averse to disunity; like Egyptian civilisation, it owed allegiance to an emperor who enjoyed a “mandate from heaven”; and the sheer density of population in its heartlands during ancient times largely prevented “swamping” by other languages.

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

This is a richly detailed work that goes through the rise and fall of more than osrler dozen of the world’s most influential languages while investigating the factors involved in their growth and death. Third is Hindi with million and fourth Spanish, with million.

This need not have been necessarily so, since this is less about linguistics and more a history of languages and their associated cultures and traditions, and while that’s also something I may be a fan of, it could get tiresome when one ancient empire after another is examined without an encompassing look.

Arabic of the young, with Spanish and Hindi-Urdu if in between. 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: For me, this was probably not nivholas good book to choose as a summer read–it is very academic in tone and is definitely not light as summertime reading usually is.


This is a wonderful book. It makes more sense when you understand what kinds of languages people were speaking. Invaders such as the Germanic tribes have dominated swathes of a continent, such as historic Gaul, and then left hardly a trace of their tongue across much of the area.

But when you’re nearing the end of a book encompassing several millennia of history involving countless nations roaming the world and building themselves global empires, suddenly, this one guy’s similar ambitions don’t seem quite so unusual. 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 fast read but is very fascinating and enjoyable.

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 illustrations and asides are mostly all there for a purpose. 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: As this book splendidly and authoritatively reveals, the language history of the world shows eloquently the real character of peoples; and, for all the recent tehnical mastery of English, nothing guarantees our language’s long-term preeminence.

With this book, Ostler provides a strong argument against the label ‘dead language’ so often assigned to Latin. A culture which can write can remember more than can be taught to a single mind, and can still remember it when the mind dies.


Oostler Ostler is a British scholar and author. Jul 10, Jee Koh rated it really liked it. 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 subject would have empres nice. But all of these criteria have exceptions: But maybe English is here to stay? Turkic and Persian acted as auxiliary languages of Islamic civilization. The Cultured Career of Sanskrit.

I enjoyed a short tangent the book took into a comparison of Greek and Chinese conceptions of the ‘barbarian’. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Languages follow something like Darwin’s law of evolution: All that said, this was a dry book about a totally fascinating subject, and if you’re interested enough in the subject, you’ll put up with reading the book.


This is about post-Columbian exploration of the new worlds in Asia and America. Currently, Paraguay is the only fully bilingual former Spanish colony.

His book Ad Infinitum: 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.

Here’s an outline of the book’s structure. State and Church were intimately united and the importance attached to orthodoxy achieved through authority led to the creation if the Inquisition in Harper CollinsJun 28, – History – pages. He is currently the chairman of the Foundation for Endangered Languagesand lives in HungerfordEngland.

The Cultured Career of Sanskrit. Celt, Roman, German and Slav. Apr 10, Elliott Bignell rated it it was amazing.

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

And it’s associated with technical progress and nicho,as culture around the world, based on a perception of wealth. Here are some of the more noteworthy concepts: I myself have been known to say “OMG” out loud, and that’s just one example that I really don’t think would have occurred without those writing technologies.

Nicholqs 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. Ostler claims that today’s mega-status of English to the extent when knowing the language is in itself a commodity is less due to America’s dominant position in the world than is usually thought, and most of the groundwork had been done by the British indeed, apart from the US, the largest English-language countries – India, Australia, NZ, South Africa – are still mostly within the British linguistic sphere.

Apr 12, Aaron Arnold rated it it was amazing Shelves: Empires of the Word: One of the ways of making history books interesting is usually to make them personal, by telling of specific people and their specific experiences, and that’s just not possible with a book like this, the same way it is with a book with a narrower focus.