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Review of Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

By in Culture
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler. | nicholasostler.com

There is something to be said for the feeling of aston­ishment followed by curiosity when hearing a different lan­guage for the very first time.

My interest in learning more languages has only grown over the years after moving to different places, making new friends and see­ing what opportunities the world has to offer.

Nicholas Ostler, the author of Empires of the Word: A Lan­guage History of the World has a serious interest in languag­es. This non-fiction book un­covers how languages were developed and spread. Ostler brings his readers back in time as he unravels the histo­ry of languages with his mas­terful storytelling.

Due to the complexity and broadness of the subject, the book raises many questions and Ostler provides answers or theories for each one. One thing I especially loved was how this book tackles the his­tory of languages and breaks it down in a way that allows readers to fully immerse themselves in the narrative and get lost in its pages.

However, be warned, this is not a light read at all. This volume boasts a total of 559 pages — and that’s not in­cluding the preface and bib­liography. It is meant to be read at a steady pace so that the reader can digest and ap­preciate its contents.

My favourite section was “Languages by Land,” a chap­ter that covers the history of the innovation of language that blossomed in the Middle East, all the way to the first death of Latin. Other note­worthy things about this book are the anecdotes and figures that are spread throughout its pages to provide a deeper understanding for the reader.

If you are someone who is keen on learning something new, this book will give you just that — especially if you like history, culture and lan­guages. The only downside is the possibility of book burnout due to how dense it is. Overall, I would give this book an eight out of 10.

There are many advantages to learning a new language. For one, languages connect people on a different level. You can gain a new perspec­tive and newfound appre­ciation for another culture. Additionally, knowing the local language can make trav­elling in an area easier and more enjoyable.

The other benefits worth mentioning from learning a new language include strong cognitive skills, increased networking skills, enhanced multi-tasking abilities and better decision-making skills.

Learning something new such as a different language can be daunting but if one perseveres, the outcome can very well unveil new oppor­tunities and lead to unimag­inable experiences.

Take that risk and learn something new.

Kristine Jones A. Del Socorro

Photo: nicholasostler.com

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