Ostler does not assume specialist knowledge, but he does assume that his readers share his gargantuan and voluptuary...

THE LAST LINGUA FRANCA

ENGLISH UNTIL THE RETURN OF BABEL

A bracing history of lingua francas and their dynamic variation, with a focus on the perfect wave that International English is riding—toward a wipeout, predicts Foundation for Endangered Languages founder Ostler (Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin, 2007, etc.).

Will English be “the last lingua franca,” exempt from the processes of “ruin, relegation, and resignation” that wasted such precursors as Akkadian, Aramaic, Greek, Persian, Sanskrit and Latin? David Crystal (English as a Global Language) and David Graddol (The Future of English) thought so, and Ostler agrees—but with a subversive twist. English’s days as the international bridge language for business, diplomacy, science, technology, education and entertainment are numbered, but its hegemonic place won’t be taken by another language, he writes. The same trend of technological innovation that spurred the triumphal expansion of English will unseat it. Continuing advances in machine translation and real-time speech-to-speech translation between any two languages will end the world’s need for one privileged interlingual language. In the ensuing egalitarian era of Babel, English will shrink back to its mother-tongue hinterland, freeing billions from ESL drudgery. Techno-utopian speculations aside, most of the matter in this book was prefigured in Ostler’s Empires of the Word (2005), which ranged across all imperial languages, both lingua francas and not (like Egyptian and Chinese). Sections on the meteoric rise and coming flame-out of International English bracket a middle section drilling down into past lingua francas, with two meaty and occasionally pedantic chapters dedicated to Persian. The author employs the same exuberantly comparative approach as Empires and recycles, sometimes verbatim, many of its arguments, parallels, anecdotes and paleographic examples. Ostler reproduces the latter in their original scripts, together with transliterations and translations. His aim is not pedantic but to pique general readers’ code-cracking interest.

Ostler does not assume specialist knowledge, but he does assume that his readers share his gargantuan and voluptuary appetite for words, languages and history.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8027-1771-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more