Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin

Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin By Nicholas Ostler, Ad Infinitum A Biography of Latin None
  • Title: Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin
  • Author: Nicholas Ostler
  • ISBN: 9780802715159
  • Page: 110
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin By Nicholas Ostler, None
    Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin By Nicholas Ostler,
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    About "Nicholas Ostler"

    1. Nicholas Ostler

      Nicholas Ostler is a British scholar and author Ostler studied at Balliol College, Oxford, where he received degrees in Greek, Latin, philosophy, and economics He later studied under Noam Chomsky at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his Ph.D in linguistics and Sanskrit.His 2005 book Empires of the Word A Language History of the World documents the spread of language throughout recorded human history.His 2007 book Ad Infinitum A Biography of Latin looks specifically at the language of the Romans, both before and after the existence of their Empire The story focuses on the rise, spread, and dominance of Latin, both among other languages of the Italian peninsula in the early part of the 1st millennium BC and among the languages of Western Europe in the Dark Ages and beyond, presenting the life of Latin as any biographer would present the life of his subject With this book, Ostler provides a strong argument against the label dead language so often assigned to Latin However, the title, Ad Infinitum, refers not to this, but to his thesis that the Latin speaking world was unconscious of its own limits, looking always back to its centre, rather than outwards.He is currently the chairman of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, and lives in Bath, England.

    759 thoughts on “Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin”

    1. Latin was an IE language spoken in a small area in Central Italy in mid first millennium BCE It shared certain features with other IE languages of Italy for example, the proto IE consonant bh became f bhrater became frater , similar to how in Cockney English things turn into fings the sound f was also common in the principal non IE language of Italy, Etruscan Latin was about as far from the principal Italic IE language of South Italy, Oscan, as Spanish is from Portuguese The Etruscans dominated [...]

    2. A fine overview of the history of Latin Well written, non specialist Opens up whole fields of reflection for classical latin enthusiasts to contemplate, and a few intriguing observations about language dominance, survival, diffusion, and decay.

    3. How do you tell the story of a language For this book, the answer is to tell the story of the events which gave it rise, propagated it, caused it to evolve and ultimately killed it From the way you can tell the unrecorded history of ancient migrations and early conflicts through the relationships between languages, through to the popularisation of the nation state and its vernacular, this is a broad reaching story.Along the way there are some surprising twists on what we are usually told So the [...]

    4. Better on tidbits than on the big picture, this book tries to cover too much in too little space and ends up reading at times like a textbook superficial summaries of vast swathes of history about which you d rather know or just nothing at all All the same, several of the tidbits are interesting 1 in the Middle Ages, a classroom text colorfully depicted the Seven Liberal Arts as having distinct personalities I particularly like the description of Grammar Grammatica is an old lady with highly po [...]

    5. I am not a linguist, and I have little to no knowledge of Latin, so I am just about as far away from the intended audience for this book that one can be I checked out the e book, on a whim, because it sounded interesting And it was, in parts, unfortunately the other parts usually made my eyes bleed I do not necessarily blame the author for this, it was just too much for my poor little ignorant brain.Nevertheless, the sections on the influence of Christianity was particularly interesting.But if y [...]

    6. With Ad Infinitum Nicholas Ostler has achieved a magisterial overview of the history of the Latin language The work covers the full breadth of the language s history, which spans almost 3000 years, and it predominantly approaches this topic from a historical perspective That is to say, while Ostler is a trained Linguist and Classicist, it is possible to read this book without any expert knowledge in these disciplines, and, for the complex or less directly relevant matters, the author has chosen [...]

    7. Lector intende Laetaberis Reader, pay attention You will enjoy yourself Apuleius, Metamorphoseon, i.I This was a fantastic book filled with fascinating insights that gave me a new perspective on European history I found it very well written, thoroughly researched, and scholarly without being dry While there is a lot of Latin in it and even in the endnotes, you don t have to know Latin to read and enjoy this book although I am sure it is even better if you do Translations into modern English are [...]

    8. Subtitle A biography of Latin There are books, there are books for nerds, and then there are books for nerds which eschew such topics as physics or history way too mainstream , and instead are entirely about the language Latin We have hit a new level of geekiness here I feel right at home.Not that I know much about Latin But I liked the author s previous book, Empires of the World , which was about how languages and political empires went together or failed to , so I was willing to follow him as [...]

    9. This is a really good overview of the Latin language which traces its evolution through nearly three centuries of continuous use albeit in different forms, by different groups, and, especially, for vastly different purposes Ostler is a trained linguist who, along with David Crystal and Stephen Pinker, has helped to bring the fruits of recent advances in linguistics to a wider audience his most well known work being the scholarly but accessible to the lay reader Empires of the Word It is little s [...]

    10. In this book, Nicholas Ostler, also author of _Empires of the Word_, traces the history of the Latin language from its origins in a melange of dead Italic languages and Greek influences through its heyday as language of Empire and Church and its decline and ghettoization in an ivory prison.Though biased as a Hellenistic historian, I found the earlier chapters of the book on ancient Latin and its relationship to Greek language and culture to be the strongest In these chapters, Ostler dazzles the [...]

    11. This is a book that somewhat puzzles me how did Ostler write his book proposal I can t quite figure out the audience it must be people like me, who are well educated, but feel some inadequacy in their lack of classical learning But I get the sense that a true classicist would be bored by it And even as an academic without training in Latin, much of the historical context is well known That s not to say there aren t gems hidden within, and as a non specialist, I did appreciate the greater exposur [...]

    12. Nicholas Ostler s book is a history of the Latin language from the early Roman state and the Etruscans to the 21st century As a person who took two years of classical Latin in high school, learned medieval church Latin as an altar boy, and have periodicaly brushed up on the language, I found the book of great interest There is much about the development of Romance languages and English For instance, Latin has six cases and three genders for nouns, reduced to one or two cases and two genders in F [...]

    13. Finally finished it My interest in Latin is mostly in the language in a synchronic framework I ve never been that interested in Roman history, though I recognize how important it is The author writes in great detail about the vocabulary and structure particularly the vocabulary of Latin as it was spoken in the lands of the Roman Empire and why it developed the way it did, which is up my alley He also spends a lot of time on the role of Latin in post Roman European education the sort of stuff tha [...]

    14. Nicholas Ostler s AD INFINITUM A BIOGRAPHY OF LATIN is exactly what it says it is a biography of Latin from 750 B.C to the present Ostler considers some of the languages and influences that affected the early development of Latin, the spread of Latin and its function as the language of the Roman Empire, the changes that came to Latin when it became the language of the Church, the development of vernacular languages, and many other topics AD INFINITUM is a fascinating book based on deep scholarsh [...]

    15. Given to me by my mother, Christmas 2007.A scholarly but readable take on the lengthy history of the Latin tongue.I immensely enjoyed the early stages of the book, as it pertained to the early development of Latin as a tribal dialect of Latium, wildly influenced in the world of commerce and daily life by Etruscan, and then battered with a Greek stick.The rise of the Church and its use of Latin was the height of the book for me and then it feel off, much like the language itself did into waring f [...]

    16. Very complete and detailed history of one of the West s major languages Ostler is a very accomplished linguist the jacket blurb said he is conversant with 18 different languages and is exhaustive in his treatment 380 pp total, copious footnotes on majority of pages, 26 pp of end notes Though somewhat dense mainly because of the wealth of information presented Ostler s prose is also pleasant and full of interesting insights into the different peoples who are part of his story In reading this book [...]

    17. It s not easy to write a popular history of a niche topic Ostler does decently well The central thesis, that Latin is the real cultural unifying factor of what we call Europe, is interesting Unfortunately, it also leads Ostler to think he needs to summarize all of European history Then for some reason we hear all about Latin in the New World I think the author just never really knew what story he wanted to tell There were enough sparkling Latin tidbits strewn throughout to satisfy Latinists, but [...]

    18. I thought this book would be good and I m inherently interested in history and Latin as a former student of both history and the language But this book was so caught up in detailed footnotes and lists of words that it failed to effectively tell an over arching story The writing did not provide a coherent analysis of the development of the language and did not track the language s history in an interesting way It was obviously well researched, but after reading other linguistic histories of Frenc [...]

    19. An incredibly interesting history lesson on the Latin language Ostler tackles the influence of the Etruscan and Greek languages on Latin, why Latin was such an influential language, how Christianity played a role in the spread and survival of Latin, how the Romance languages came about, why Latin stuck around for so long, and ultimately why Latin went away as a universal language This is a great, if not always quick, read and a nice way to geek out on communication through history, and it makes [...]

    20. 2,500 years of history as seen through the lens of Latin as its evolved with the historic changes in its speakers As such, it is a reflection of both wars and leisure, and thus a surprisingly effective way to view the centuries Ostler writes with equal fluency in both the historian s and linguist s vein, with plenty of anecdote to leaven the technical turns If you like language and appreciate Latin, this is a grand guide to the humanity behind its shifts.

    21. For Sarah,A tidbit from this book The Seven Liberal Arts from medieval texts were described as personalities This is the description for Grammar Grammatica is an old lady with highly polished manners, and various surgical appliances, such as a scalpel to excise the vices in children s tongues, an inky powder that could heal the same, and an extremely sharp medicine to be applied to the throat in case of fetid burps brought on by unschooled boorishness.

    22. For Latin students who learned it a single correct way a refreshing biography of a language that rose from obscurity, plundered the vocabulary and verb formation of its Etruscan, Greek and Celtic neighbors to become the flexible, hard working, multi purpose language of laws, military operations and religious hierarchy.

    23. setting this one aside for a bit i only read about a third of it and lost interest that could be my own fault i m distracted by many things right now i don t think this is an intrinsically bad book, nor even a boring one i m just not in the correct frame of mind to deal with it at the moment i ll return and read this later.

    24. Thorough outline of the origins, developments, uses and consequences of one language Considers political history, literature, church implementation and reforms, rise of Romance languages, and spread to New World Copious footnotes tracing sources and extensive commentary on historical guides and training manuals, to ask What was is Latin and what was is it used for

    25. Like so many armchair histories, this one runs a little too fast for me, especially through the most interesting part the very early history But ok, I understand that this most interesting part is also the part that is the least documented understood Still, it was well written and very compelling, although a bit heavy on the duller, later centuries.

    26. This was actually kind of interesting It was kind of fascinating to learn how we ended up with Latin as the predominant language root rather than any of the other zillion languages that have come and gone through history I was left with the idea that it was pretty much politics and coincidence that made it happen I m glad I read it.

    27. Hit and miss Books about language histories and development for the layman are hard to come by so you sort of settle when one comes along Some parts here are quite interesting, others read like the driest of textbooks complete with all the glazed over eyes such implies 2.5 stars

    28. This is a very good read Exactly what was promised on the dust jacket I agree with many other comments but if you have any interest in languages this is a great book If you were hoping for a book of Latin bon mot, probably look somewhere else This is a broad history with a few deep pit stops.

    29. I m torn There was a hell of a lot of what seemed like gratuitous Roman history here it s a book about the language, dammit , but I m not sure how much of it you could have excised without losing a reader who wasn t as up on Rome.

    30. If you can stick with it you will learn much of what is to know of Latin from 750BC to the translating of two Harry Potter books There is much that is interesting to the layman but also, for the layman, it has than you really wanted to know.

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