Speak : A Short History of Languages

3.8 (126 ratings by Goodreads)
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How does a language come into being and when does it disappear? What actually happened to Latin? When was English created? Will all people on Earth speak English or Chinese in 200 years? These are a few of the fascinating questions discussed in A Short History of Languages. It is about how historical conditions shape languages and how languages influence the course of history. The book starts with a discussion of the period of hunters and gatherers, when there was a huge number of languages. It moves on to Greek and Latin, to French and Italian, and naturally a full discussion of English. Many other languages are treated, from Setswana in southern Africa to the Creole language of Nevis in the West Indies. Hanson presents languages and cultures in a lively way, with concrete examples and, often, small samples from literary works. Although no knowledge of foreign languages is required, the book provides astonishing insights into many cultures and their languages. At the same time, it identifies long terms trends in history that may allow us to make predictions about the future.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text | 309 pages
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 0191544825
  • 9780191544828

About Tore Janson

Tore Janson recently retired as Professor of African Languages at G teberg University in Sweden. He has held various teaching posts and research posts around the work, including the University of California, Los Angeles, and has published numerous books and articles on topics in language andlinguistics.show more

Review quote

"Accomplishes its task in a very elegant and living way . Amazing ability to put together historical data and illuminating comments about languages."--Linguistshow more

Rating details

126 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
5 25% (32)
4 37% (47)
3 29% (37)
2 8% (10)
1 0% (0)
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