Download e-book for kindle: a short history of languages by Tore Janson

By Tore Janson

This ebook is a heritage of human speech from prehistory to the current. It charts the increase of a few languages and the autumn of others, explaining why a few live to tell the tale and others die. It exhibits how languages swap their sounds and meanings, and the way the heritage of languages is heavily associated with the background of peoples.

Writing in a full of life, readable variety, extraordinary Swedish student Tore Janson makes no assumptions approximately earlier wisdom. he's taking the reader on a voyage of exploration during the altering styles of the world's languages, from historical China to historic Egypt, imperial Rome to imperial Britain, Sappho's Lesbos to modern Africa. He discovers the hyperlinks among the histories of societies and their languages; he indicates how language advanced from primitive calls; he considers the query of even if one language might be extra complicated than one other. the writer describes the historical past of writing and the impression of adjusting know-how. He ends through assessing the customers for English global domination and predicting the languages of the far-off destiny.

5 historic maps illustrate this attention-grabbing background of our defining attribute and most precious asset.

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Extra resources for a short history of languages

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When comparing Old English, Old German, and Old Norse, one can easily see that those languages were considerably more similar to each other than are their modern counterparts. 2 gives a few words that can serve as examples. 2. Modern and older forms of words in Germanic languages English German Swedish birds Vögel fåglar way Weg väg go gehen gå Old English Old High German Old Norse fugelas fugala fuglar weg uueg vegr gan gangan ganga It is clear that the words were closer in form in the old languages.

Probably each one of them has a very long history of its own, but in most cases nobody knows anything at all about it. However, most languages belong to some group, or language family, as the usual term is. The word “family” implies an 49 The Large Language Groups analogy that is, in my view, somewhat misleading; languages may be similar for a number of reasons, and the relations between languages are not at all like human kinship. For that reason, the more neutral “language group” is used here.

Proto-Slavic may have been spoken over a vast area around ad 1. 33 The Large Language Groups The third large group of languages in Europe consists of the Romance languages, mainly in southern and western Europe. The most important ones are French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. 4. 4. Similar words in four Romance languages French Spanish Italian Portuguese bread son pain pan pane pão fils hijo figlio filho The words in the four languages are so similar that it is obvious that they cannot have originated independently from one another.

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