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Nicholas Ostler

Originally posted August 2005

Empires of the Word

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We often learn about the world's civilizations by reading their own words -- their books, their documents, their letters, their court decisions, even their recipes and songs and eulogies. But up until now, there had been no book that told the history of the world through its various languages. Why did English survive as an everyday language but not Latin? Why do some tribal lingos develop into popular languages while others do not? Linguist Nicholas Ostler tells us that history.

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