Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

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HarperCollins, 2005 - Historical linguistics - 615 pages
If the history of languages has taught us anything, Nicholas Ostler argues, it is that no language - however populous its speakers, confident its culture and advanced its technology - has remained the linga franca indefinitely. As the technological and cultural dominance of America has consolidated the territorial achievements of the British Empire, the English language (aided by the predominantly Anglophone Internet) has apparently never had it so good. And yet the long-term dominance of English will inevitably, in due course, give way. Will English be displaced in world terms by a language such as Mandarin Chinese, which has been a great regional player since well before English emerged as an offshoot of Anglo-Saxon, French and Norse?

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User Review  - dhmontgomery - LibraryThing

An interesting linguistic history of some of the world's biggest languages — why they rose, why some of them fell, and why they didn't experience other paths. Full of interesting tidbits, such as the ... Read full review

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User Review  - ashleytylerjohn - LibraryThing

Oh dear--I had such high hopes--and I really do love the occasional academic treatise. This just wasn't compelling, despite in the abstract sounding like a slam dunk for me. Eventually I realised one ... Read full review

Contents

THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE HISTORY
5
What It Takes to Be a World Language or You Never Can Tell
18
LANGUAGES BY LAND
27
Egyptian and Chinese
113
The Cultured Career of Sanskrit
174
The Adventures of Greek
227
Celt Roman German and Slav
272
The First Death of Latin
315
Spanish in the New World
331
Europes Languages Abroad
380
Microcosm or Distorting Mirror? The Career of English
456
LANGUAGES TODAY AND TOMORROW
523
NOTES
561
BIBLIOGRAPHY
579
INDEX
591
Copyright

LANGUAGES BY SEA
323

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About the author (2005)

Nicholas Ostler is a scholar and scientist of languages, who has a working knowledge of 26 languages and who set up five years ago the Foundation for Endangered Languages, an international organisation, to provide funding and support to document and revitilise languages in peril. With his own company Linguacubun Ltd., he regularly advises governments and corporations on policy in the field of computers and natural language processing.

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