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By Tore Janson

This e-book 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 switch their sounds and meanings, and the way the historical past of languages is heavily associated with the background of peoples.

Writing in a full of life, readable sort, amazing Swedish student Tore Janson makes no assumptions approximately past wisdom. he is taking the reader on a voyage of exploration in the course of 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 exhibits how language advanced from primitive calls; he considers the query of even if one language should be extra complex than one other. the writer describes the background of writing and the influence of fixing expertise. He ends by means of assessing the customers for English global domination and predicting the languages of the far-off destiny.

5 ancient maps illustrate this attention-grabbing heritage of our defining attribute and Most worthy asset.

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This is the nature of language change. Historical linguists apply quite subtle methods to find out whether different 53 The Large Language Groups languages may have had a common prehistory, and these are the methods that are used to establish the existence of language groups. However, there are limits to how far back these methods can take us. It is often possible to reconstruct important aspects of the language situation two or three thousand years ago from languages that are spoken now. If there are old written sources, as is the case for some Indo-European languages, it is possible to reconstruct about as far back again, from the time when they were written.

In most other large groups, no single language dominates to that extent. However, in the groups with a large number of speakers there are mostly a few languages with very many speakers, while most languages have few speakers. For example, the Dravidian group, found mostly in southern India, has four large languages (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada) with more than 150 million speakers between them, and an additional 65 languages or dialects that share the remaining 9 million or so. All in all there are around twenty large language groups that are generally recognized by linguists.

Its previous history is unknown. But there are many such isolates over the world. 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.

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