Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin, By Nicholas Ostler
Sunday 29 November 2009
A biography of a language which is arguably longer and more eventful than any other, Ad Infinitum takes the reader from its origins, before the Roman republic began in the Latium region of southern Italy (whence Lazio football club derives its name), to the present day.
Nicholas Ostler traces Latin's replacement of Greek as the dominant language of the continent, as well as its role in preserving and disseminating Greek culture, through the balmy days of the Roman Empire when it was spoken by 60 million people across Europe and North Africa; its growth as the official language of the Roman Catholic church; the birth of its daughters, Italian, French, Spanish and Romanian; its healthy middle age as the international language of scholars, poets, divines and humanists through the Renaissance and beyond; its continued prestige as the language of the educated gentleman long after it had ceased to be a vehicle for original thought; right up to its lingeringly influential afterlife, now that English has replaced it as the lingua franca.
Erudite, informative and enjoyable, this is a lesson in how closely language and power are linked.
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 4 Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
- 5 Kenya bus attack: Al-Shabaab militants kill 28 non-Muslims who failed to recite Koran
Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Beyoncé '7/11' music video: Star bounces on bed in low-fi homage to viral video
Angelina Jolie confirms retirement from acting: 'I've never been comfortable on-screen'
Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track