The History of Languages: An Introduction

Paperback | October 26, 2011

byTore Janson

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This is an introduction to the history of languages, from the distant past to a glimpse at what languages may be like in the distant future. It looks at how languages arise, change, and ultimately vanish, and what lies behind their different destinies. What happens to languages, he argues, hasto do with what happens to the people who use them, and what happens to people, individually and collectively, is affected by the languages they speak. The book opens by examining what languages the hunter-gatherers might have spoken and the changes to language that took place when agriculture made settled communities possible. It then looks at the effects of the invention of writing, the formation of empires, the spread of religions, and therecent dominance of world powers, and shows how these relate to great changes in the use of languages. Tore Janson discusses the appearance of new languages, the reasons why some languages spread and others die, considers whether similar cyclical processes are found at different times and places,and examines the causes of internal changes in languages and dialects. The book ranges widely among the world's languages and mixes thematic chapters on general processes of change with accounts of specific languages, including Chinese, Arabic, Latin, Greek, and English.

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This is an introduction to the history of languages, from the distant past to a glimpse at what languages may be like in the distant future. It looks at how languages arise, change, and ultimately vanish, and what lies behind their different destinies. What happens to languages, he argues, hasto do with what happens to the people who u...

Tore Janson was Professor of Oriental and African Languages at the University of Goteborg until his retirement in 2000. He was previously Professor of Latin at the same university and is a world expert on its history. He is the author of the international bestsellers Speak: A Short History of Languages (OUP 2002; paperback 2003) and T...

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A Natural History of Latin

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9.69 × 6.73 × 0.01 inPublished:October 26, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199604290

ISBN - 13:9780199604296

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Table of Contents

List of MapsList of FiguresList of TablesPrefacePart I: Before History1. Unwritten Languages2. The Large Language GroupsPart II: The Basis of History3. History and Writing4. Hieroglyphs and Egyptian5. Chinese - The Oldest SurvivorPart III: Language Expansions6. Greek - Conquest and Culture7. Latin - Conquest and Order8. Arabic - Conquest and ReligionPart IV: Languages and Nations9. Did Dante Write in Italian?10. From Germanic to Modern English11. The Era of National LanguagesPart V: Europe and the World12. Languages of Europe and of the World13. How Languages are Born - or Made14. How Languages DisappearPart VI: Recent Past, Present, Future15. The Heyday of English16. Chinese and English in China17. And Then?ChronologyReferencesGuidelines for Answers to QuestionsIndex

Editorial Reviews

"... new ideas and insights are constantly emerging even in the narrative of well-estabished facts ... controversial topics are often presented from both sides, and when [Janson] makes a decision to come down on one side of an argument it is the result of careful thought." --Roger Wright, University of Liverpool, Diachronica "'A synthesis of the whole of linguistic history is remarkable enough in itself, but to have made it generally accessible to an educated non-specialist public is a real achievement.' --Roger Wright, University of Liverpool, Diachronica "'I like Tore Janson's book very much, and can see why the original Swedish version has been a best-seller. He has translated it himself, and writes with authority and clarity on a topic which has rarely, if ever, been presented in such a wide and coherent perspective." --Roger Wright, University of Liverpool, Diachronica