An unusual and authoritative 'natural history of languages' that narrates the ways in which one language has superseded or outlasted another in the past, and what it is about - say - Greek, Sanskrit, Mandarin Chinese and English that has led to their supremacy at different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.
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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.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* Caesar led his legions into battle for the glory of Rome--and the immortality of Greek. In the curious spread of Greek through Roman conquest, Ostler recounts one of the many fascinating episodes in the complex history of languages. The resources of the cultural historian complement those of the comparative linguist in this capacious work, which sets the parameters for a new field of scholarship: "language dynamics." By peering over Ostler's shoulder into this new field, readers learn how languages ancient and modern (Sumerian and Egyptian; Spanish and English) spread and how they dwindle. The raw force of armies counts, of course, in determining language fortunes but for far less than the historically naive might suppose: military might failed to translate into lasting linguistic conquest for the Mongols, Turks, or Russians. Surprisingly, trade likewise proves weak in spreading a language--as the Phoenician and Dutch experiences both show. In contrast, immigration and fertility powerfully affect the fate of languages, as illustrated by the parallel histories of Egyptian and Chinese. Ostler explores the ways modern technologies of travel and communication shape language fortunes, but he also highlights the power of ancient faiths--Christian and Moslem, Buddhist and Hindu--to anchor language traditions against rapid change. Of particular interest will be Ostler's provocative conjectures about a future in which Mandarin or Arabic take the lead or in which English fractures into several tongues. Few books bring more intellectual excitement to the study of language. Bryce Christensen
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Book Description HarperCollins, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: Acceptable. Ex Library Book with usual stamps and stickers. Darkened tan to the page edges. Acceptable: a readable copy. All pages and the cover are intact (dust cover may be missing). Pages can include considerable notes--in pen or highlighter--but notes cannot obscure the text. Most items will be dispatched the same or the next working day. Bookseller Inventory # mon0006895986
Book Description HarperCollins, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: Acceptable. Acceptable items may shows sign of prior usage, pages stained or discoloured from the outside. Covers/corners and spine may be worn/bent, may contain stickers/stamps or previous owners name (May contain gift note). For detailed description please contact seller. Bookseller Inventory # mon0001295112
Book Description London HarperCollins, 2005. Hardbound, 8vo, 614pp. Near fine in near fine dustjacket. For non-UK mailings extra postage will be needed. Bookseller Inventory # 20033
Book Description HarperCollins, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: Near Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. Bright, crisp, unclipped dust jacket. Tight binding, solid boards with sharp corners, clean, unmarked pages throughout. Bookseller Inventory # ws17255
Book Description HarperCollins., 2005. tapa dura. Historical linguistics., Language and history., Language and languages., Language and society., Historical linguistics - Popular works., Language and languages - History., Illustrated HarperCollins. London. 2005. 24 cm. xxi,615 p. Encuadernación en tapa dura de editorial con sobrecubierta ilustrada. Idioma Inglés. Nicholas Ostler. Originally published: 2003. Includes bibliographical references (p. 579-589) and index. Originally published: Harper Collins, 2005. Contents The nature of language history -- Languages by land -- Languages by sea -- Languages today and tomorrow . ISBN: 0007118708 HH24. Bookseller Inventory # 1109572
Book Description HarperCollins, London, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. 1st Edition. Bookseller Inventory # 006745
Book Description A Language History of the world. London, HarperCollins 2005. 615 S., OPappband m. OUmschlag. Leicht bestoßen. Bookseller Inventory # 63505