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About the Author

Nicholas Ostler is a scholar and scientist of languages, who has a working knowledge of 26 languages and who, five years ago, set up the Foundation for Endangered Languages, an international organisation, to provide funding and support to document and revitalise 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.


In this delightfully rich book, Ostler, an Oxford-educated classicist with a Ph.D. in linguistics from MIT, thoroughly tackles the deep and complex history of the Latin language. He delves into the matrix of antique languages (Greek, Etruscan, Oscan) to uncover the context and relationships that a nascent and burgeoning Latin had with the multiplicity of Mediterranean languages existing at that time. In four parts, Ostler covers the origins and development of Latin in the Roman world, Latin's "taking over the church," its medieval continuation and fracturing into vernaculars, and a nuanced rebirth in the Renaissance and its legacy in the contemporary world. Incredibly well documented, with examples from antiquity to the modern era (such as Giuseppe Peano's "Latino sine flexione"--uninflected Latin as a world language), this may overexpose non-Latinists to great quantities of Latin prose and linguistic explanations, but for interested students, teachers, and scholars, it is a fabulous text. Recommended for public and academic libraries.--Anthony J. Elia, JKM Theological Lib., Chicago Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Praise for 'Empires of the Word':

'It is a compelling read, one of the most interesting books I have read in a long while...a great book. After reading it you will never think of language in the same way again.' Guardian

'Learned and entertaining...remarkably comprehensive as well as thought-provoking.' Observer

'Ostler is particularly good on this linguistic fragility...This richly various book offers new insights and information for almost everyone interested in the past.' Sunday Telegraph

'A serious work of scholarship, but one that can be read from cover to cover by the amateur enthusiast...the breadth of this analysis is does its job admirably.' Spectator

'Ambitious and well-researched.' New Statesman

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