This book review was written by Eugene Kernes
Genre = History
Language is how knowledge is transmitted, how memories are preserved. Binds a people together by means of communication. To understand how languages can change, requires an understanding of how languages have changed. Many languages which were once thought to be permanent or dominant, have been overtaken or vanished with time. This book focuses on how languages spread to other regions which spoke different languages. How the language communities persuaded others to speak their language. A language brings with it many aspects of how the people perceive themselves. When the language changes, the people perceive themselves differently. Languages persist even when the speakers have changed. Beyond the confines of any particular state or region. Languages symbolize an identity, while also changing and reacting to new realities.
To reach wider communications, the language needs to be taken up by people who are not native speakers. The main ways that languages have spread is by people moving to different regions and brining their language with them, or by assimilating people they have contact with, or a combination of the two. Some languages are only known because of foreigners who spread the language, rather than because of the native speakers. Some languages have maintained their stability even while under foreign influence. Within some regions, people became multilingual, either to communicate with neighbors, or to dignify court, religion, or commerce.
Languages showcase the impacts of cultural relations. With many ironies involved such as conquerors taking up the language of those they were supposed to be conquering. Showcasing the different types of languages, and how people interact with it.
The book can be a bit difficult to read. Provides a world history, but will need more information on the peoples showcased to create an understanding of the people. As this is a language history book, the author is biased in favor of the language factor and aspect of civilization over other factors.
Questions to Consider while Reading the Book