The Last Lingua Franca: English Until the Return of Babel

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Penguin Books Limited, Nov 4, 2010 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 352 pages
2 Reviews

In this provocative and persuasive new book, Nicholas Ostler challenges our assumption that English will continue to dominate as the global lingua franca. Drawing on his encyclopaedic knowledge of world languages and their history, Ostler reveals that just as past great languages like Latin and Sanskrit have died out, so English will follow.

The influence of English now is hard to exaggerate - it is the world's preferred medium for business, science and entertainment, and is claimed to be a basic educational tool like mathematics or computing. So is it here to stay? For the last four centuries, the dominant world power has been English-speaking, but the global balance of power is shifting. And in countries like Brazil, Russia and China, English plays no part in the national tradition.

Although globalization has helped the rise of English, trade, migration, economic development and technological innovation are now changing the way we access and use language. Ostler shows how we are headed towards a much more multilingual and diverse future. And as English retreats, no single language will take its place.

We can embrace this future but first we need to accept it: the last competitive advantage of native English-speakers will soon be consigned to history.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shimmin - LibraryThing

This book's about linguas franca and the ideas about English remaining as an eternal world language, or being overtaken by Chinese or what-haveyou. It's decent enough, but I've got to say I couldn't ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JohnPeterAltgeld - LibraryThing

Pomposity, pedantry, and an author too in love with himself. I had read Nicholas Ostler's "Empires of the Word" and enjoyed it and learned from it. Based on that positive experience and the good ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Nicholas Ostler is the author of the critically acclaimed Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World. He studied Greek, Latin and Philosophy at the University of Oxford and holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from MIT. With a working knowledge of twenty-six languages, Nicholas now runs an institute for the protection of endangered languages, an international organization that provides funding and support to document and revive dying languages. He lives in Bath.

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