[[ eBook ]] Empires of the Word: A Language History of the WorldAuthor Nicholas Ostler – 91videos.co

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. Ostler s erudition is encyclopedic All by himself, he wrote this handy one volume language history of the world, ranging from Sumerian, Akkadian and Aramaic in the ancient world to English in our contemporary scene, discussing Egyptian, Chinese, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Spanish, and Russian in the course of his immense story 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 English in much needed perspective.Throughout the book Ostler is at pains to correct the misconception that empire building has carried the burden of language spread Some conquerors in fact adopted the language of their vanquished foes Even when military might led to language spread, what wasvital for the permanent adoption of the foreign language was the growth of the language community, in which a parent, often the mother, taught the children her native language The hearth and not the battlefield was where language victories were won or lost Ostler gives four main reasons why an imperial language lives on after the empire disappears The reasons are self explanatory creole e.g all the American colonies that became independent from their mother countries in Europe , nostalgia why French has hung on in sub Saharan Africa , unity the take up of Malay by the newly independent Indonesia , and globality the many countries that adopt English In Ostler s terms, Singapore has retained English for reasons of unity and globality This is a book I will come back to again and again. This is an absolutely fascinating, dreadfully boring book.If you re at all interested in how dominant languages have spread and evolved, and how they impacted the linguistic development of all other languages in their regions, then stay away If you re REALLY interested in small details of this subject, then this might be a good book for you.Nick Ostler has this tendency, also, to latch on to small bits of evidence and make much of it He s usually clear that he s doing this he says, We don t really know, but this is the way that I think makes the story most interesting, and there is some evidence for it, so I m going to choose to believe it was this way That s fine, and he s clear about it and it s not like the book is poorly researched there s hundreds and hundreds of footnotes But he does recognize that the needs of a coherent story worldview require that we take a few things on less evidence than we d like.Finally, the book is peppered throughout with lots of source language citations for pretty much every language that he talks about It opens up with an extensive passage in romanized Quechua, for instance I thought this was awesome although I wasn t entirely convinced that his or his advisors had written everything precisely right, and trying to get one s head around the numerous different romanization systems to get a sense of what the languages actually sounded like and how they worked, his stated point in including these quotes got really difficult It s an admirable goal, but I don t think that it really worked as intended.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. . .. Wow, this book covers a lot of ground and a lot of history I learned a few things that I d been curious about for a long time, like why did Ancient Egyptian cease to be spoken Turns out that when the pharaoh was gone, the heart went out of old Egyptian religion and the language was adopted as a Christian language Who knew that it does survive, but in the liturgy of the Coptic Christian church in Egypt Of course in a book of this scope nothing less than world wide there is no way to discuss all the many languages of mankind It focuses on the top 20 languages, kind of a greatest hits album There are obviously many fascinating languages that don t appear or get short shrift If you are academically inclined, there are oodles of footnotes which should provide plenty of future research opportunities.For me, this was probably not a good book to choose as a summer read it is very academic in tone and is definitely not light as summertime reading usually is In fact, some evenings it acted as a sleep aid, and next evening I would have to re read some pages that my dozy brain just hadn t absorbed the previous day.That said, the book was also an excellent overview of world history and I think I have a better sense of the order of certain events than before And because I am fascinated with language and linguistics, I m very glad I persevered and finished the book. History is a lotfascinating when viewed through the spread of various languages and cultures.The author here presents his case for the importance of languages in the human history The distinctive traits of various languages and how they are central to the formation of societies and their role in defining their cultures.After a brief introduction on the nature of language history, the first half of the book deals with the language spread by land Starting with the mesopotamian languages of Sumerian, Akkadian, Aramaic and Arabic It then goes on to the rise and fall of sanskrit in India, of latin and Greek in Europe and the spread of Chinese and Egyptian.Sevond half of the book deals with the spread of the European languages by the sea, starting with Portuguese, spanish, dutch,French and then English.The final section deals with the current state of the most spoken languages in the world and some speculation regarding their future.This is a richly detailed work that goes through the rise and fall ofthan a dozen of the world s most influential languages while investigating the factors involved in their growth and death.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. Not a fun book, nor an easy book, and not well edited But maybe the most illuminating world history book that I have ever read A hell of a lotcredible than Guns Germs and Steel You get used to learning the history of the world through the lens of empire It makessense when you understand what kinds of languages people were speaking All the same family Akkadian Sumerian , Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic 3500 years with surprisingly gradual change Kurdish is a Persian language, part of the Indo European language group Sanskrit, Persian Farsi , and Arabic are all admired for being poetic The Turkic language group is spoken by a group that extends today in broad, straight path from Turkey to the border or Mongolia Romance languages include all of the obvious countries, plus duh Romania Finnish is related to Hungarian, and nothing else The Greek language continued to thrive forthan 1000 years largely because it was held in esteem by learned Romans.The Germanic languages don t have a good success rate English seems strong today, but in historic terms, it probably won t last too long on top So, a painful book, but here I am, reading it again already. . , ,, , , , , , ,, , , , , , , ,, ,, ,, , ,, , ,, ,, , , , . 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 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