By Nicholas Ostler
Nicholas Ostler's Empires of the Word is the 1st heritage of the world's nice tongues, gloriously celebrating the sweetness of phrases that binds groups jointly and makes attainable either the dwelling of a standard historical past and the telling of it. From the uncanny resilience of chinese language via twenty centuries of invasions to the attractive self-regard of Greek and to the struggles that gave delivery to the languages of recent Europe, those epic achievements and extra are brilliantly explored, as are the interesting mess ups of as soon as "universal" languages. A best, authoritative, and noteworthy paintings, it demonstrates how the language heritage of the realm eloquently unearths the genuine personality of our planet's diversified peoples and prepares us for a linguistic destiny choked with surprises.
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Extra info for Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World
Simply as there at the moment are no less than ten significant scripts* derived in India from the Brahmi characters (diffused all around the subcontinent in Aśoka’s time), there are one other 9 that constructed in South-East Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines,† all derived from Indian scripts, many in the course of the Pallava script of the south. The foundation of this variety lies within the number of writing fabrics on hand somewhere else, however the diverse kinds obviously got here to be nationwide icons. within the Cambodian pillars that hold principles for monasteries, Sanskrit in Khmer script on one aspect is paralleled by means of Sanskrit in a North Indian script at the different: maybe there have been North Indian devotees in addition to Khmers resident the following. 31 this can be only one of many indicators that there has been heavy cultural site visitors in either instructions among India and Indo-China in this interval. one other instance is given by means of the lifetime of Atīśa, a monk born in Bengal in 982, who went directly to develop into one of many founders of Buddhism in Tibet in his sixties. He had spent his scholar days in Śri Vijaya, in Sumatra. In a manner, the tradition because the Indians introduced it is going to constantly be a secret to us. The splendours of Shwe Dagon in Burma, Borobodur in Java, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, in addition to much less recognized magnificences in Pagan, Champa, Laos, Bali and Sumatra, outfitted over a millennium from approximately advert 500, all stemmed from the seminal rules of the Indians, yet not less than when it comes to structure there's not anything now particularly like them again in India. we will be able to purely speculate that kinds completed in stone at Borobodur and Angkor Wat may perhaps echo the structure of wood constructions lengthy vanished from southern India. however, this roll-call of states and civilisations that took their beginnings from India reminds us how mammoth, how various and the way durable this effect used to be, all of the extra striking simply because no army strength turns out to were utilized anyplace to herald the recent, extra organised, Indian society. This contrasts sharply with the list of incursions from the opposite built civilisation to the north. Ever because the first century advert, China were placing consistent strain at the Annamite country of northern Vietnam, periodically invading it, and insisting on popularity of China’s emperor as its overlord. The earliest documented Indianised kingdom—the documentation is Chinese—was set at the reduce Mekong, in sleek Cambodia and southern Vietnam, most likely within the first century advert. it is often referred to as Funan, that is a chinese language model of its identify. It used to be particularly referred to as, in Khmer, Bnam, ‘the mountain’,* and its king as kurung bnam, a translation of Parvatabhū-pala or Śailarāja: bearing this identify of ‘King of the Mountain’, he may have demonstrated a cult of the god Siva in a excessive position, so reconciling his legitimacy as an Indian king with the local spirits of the land. 32 Funan’s beginning fable, learn from a Sanskrit inscription in Champa,33 confirms this. A Brahman named Kauinya (derived from Kuin, one in all Siva’s titles) acquired a javelin from one other Brahman, a hero from the Mahabharata named Aśvattāman, and threw it to discover the proper web site for town.