A revelatory and exhilarating tour de force, Nicholas Ostler's The Last Lingua Franca: The Rise and Fall of World Languages explores the rise of a linguistic diversity we could never before have imagined. In the twenty-first century, can we really take the dominance of English for granted? In their time, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Sanskrit and Persian have each been world languages, sweeping the globe for centuries at a time. And yet they have all been displaced, just as Nicholas Ostler predicts English will be.
What forces drive these linguistic currents? What characteristics do lingua francas share? And most importantly, how do they lose their power?
'Frequently jaw-dropping and never less than convincing' (Henry Hitchings, Financial Times). 'Sweepingly learned and engagingly garrulous' (Sunday Times). 'A much-needed challenge to conventional wisdom' (Guardian). 'A linguist of astonishing voracity ... the predictions are striking' (Economist).
Nicholas Ostler is the author of Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World and Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin. 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.