Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World
By: Nicholas Ostler
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
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 more 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.
I think I first came across this book…on The Economist as a book review. This was years ago. I was intrigued by the book because while language isn’t my strong suit per se, language’s importance in history and culture and just the overall development and progression over the centuries greatly interested me (perhaps the former moreso as that was the focus of my grad work, and something I realised was very important when studying national identity politics and culture). Fast forward to last year and I finally got my hands on the book 😀