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New from Oxford University Press!


It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Book Information


Title: The History of Languages
Subtitle: An Introduction
Written By: Tore Janson

This is an introduction to the history of languages, from the distant past to a
glimpse at what languages may be like in the distant future. It looks at how
languages arise, change, and ultimately vanish, and what lies behind their
different destinies. What happens to languages, he argues, has to do with
what happens to the people who use them, and what happens to people,
individually and collectively, is affected by the languages they speak.

The book opens by examining what languages the hunter-gatherers might
have spoken and the changes to language that took place when agriculture
made settled communities possible. It then looks at the effects of the
invention of writing, the formation of empires, the spread of religions, and the
recent dominance of world powers, and shows how these relate to great
changes in the use of languages. Tore Janson discusses the appearance of
new languages, the reasons why some languages spread and others die,
considers whether similar cyclical processes are found at different times and
places, and examines the causes of internal changes in languages and

The book ranges widely among the world's languages and mixes thematic
chapters on general processes of change with accounts of specific
languages, including Chinese, Arabic, Latin, Greek, and English.

Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Review: Read the review
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0199604282
ISBN-13: 9780199604289
Pages: 304
Prices: U.K. £ 50.00

Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780199604296
Pages: 304
Prices: U.K. £ 19.99