Empires of the Word

Empires of the Word : A Language History of the World

4.05 (2,676 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 9-14 business days.

Not ordering to the United States? Click here.


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.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 640 pages
  • 137 x 201 x 48mm | 499g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations
  • 0060935723
  • 9780060935726
  • 49,126

Review Text

"[A] wide-ranging history of the world's languages... [Ostler] brilliantly raises questions and supplies answers or theories." Washington Post
show more

Review quote

"True scholarship. A marvelous book, learned and instructive."--National Review
show more

About Nicholas Ostler

A scholar with a working knowledge of twenty-six languages, Nicholas Ostler has degrees from Oxford University in Greek, Latin, philosophy, and economics, and a Ph.D. in linguistics from MIT, where he studied under Noam Chomsky. He lives in Bath, England.
show more

Rating details

2,676 ratings
4.05 out of 5 stars
5 38% (1,015)
4 37% (977)
3 20% (531)
2 5% (122)
1 1% (31)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X