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Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

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Présentation de l'éditeur :

The story of the world in the last five thousand years is above all the story of its languages. Some shared language is what binds any community together and makes possible both the living of a common history and the telling of it.

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 first to bring together the tales in all their glorious variety: the amazing innovations in education, culture, and diplomacy devised by speakers of Sumerian and its successors in the Middle East, right up to the Arabic of the present day; the uncanny resilience of Chinese through twenty centuries of invasions; the charmed progress of Sanskrit from north India to Java and Japan; the engaging self-regard of Greek; the struggles that gave birth to the languages of modern Europe; and the global spread of English.

Besides these epic ahievements, language failures are equally fascinating: Why did German get left behind? Why did Egyptian, which had survived foreign takeovers for three millennia, succumb to Mohammed's Arabic? Why is Dutch unknown in modern Indonesia, though the Netherlands had ruled the East Indies for as long as the British ruled India?

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. The language future, like the language past, will be full of surprises.

Revue de presse :

“[A] wide-ranging history of the world’s languages... [Ostler] brilliantly raises questions and supplies answers or theories.” (Washington Post)

“Enlightening . . . Always challenging, always instructive--at times, even startling or revolutionary.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Delicious! Ostler’s book shows how certain lucky languages joined humankind in its spread across the world.” (John McWhorter)

“What an extraordinary odyssey the author of this superb work embarked upon.” (Literary Review)

“Covers more rambunctious territory than any other single volume I’m aware of...A wonderful ear for the project’s poetry.” (John Leonard, Harper's Magazine)

“Revolutionary... Executed with a giddying depth of scholarship, yet the detail is never too thick to swamp the general reader.” (Boston magazine)

“True scholarship. A marvelous book, learned and instructive.” (National Review)

“[A] monumental new book... Ostler furnishes many fresh insights, useful historical anecdotes and charming linguistic oddities.” (Chicago Tribune)

“A work of immense erudition.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“A story of dramatic reversals and puzzling paradoxes. A rich... text with many piercing observations and startling comparisons.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

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9780060935726: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

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ISBN 10 : 0060935723 ISBN 13 : 9780060935726
Editeur : Harper Perennial, 2006
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9780066210865: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

Harper, 2005
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9780007118717: Empires of the Word

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Ostler, Nicholas
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Description du livre Etat : Good. Ships from the UK. Former library book; may include library markings. Used book that is in clean, average condition without any missing pages. N° de réf. du vendeur 6652491-6

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Description du livre Paperback. Etat : Very Good. An unusual and authoritative 'natural history of languages' that narrates the ways in which one language has superseded or outlasted another in the past, and what it is about - say - Greek, Sanskrit, Mandarin Chinese and English that has led to their supremacy at different times. 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 the language split into disparate daughter languages which will undermine the mother tongue? 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? Taking in a broad sweep of history, Ostler will examine the reasons for the dominance of a particular language at a particular time and look at the cultural importance of linguistic variety. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. N° de réf. du vendeur GOR003413023

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