Ad Infinitum

Ad Infinitum

A Biography of Latin

Book - 2007
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The Latin language has been the one constant in the cultural history of the West for more than two millennia. It has been the foundation of our education, and has defined the way in which we express our thoughts, our faith, and our knowledge of how the world functions. Indeed, the language has proved far more enduring than its empire in Rome, its use echoing on in the law codes of half the world, in the terminologies of modern science, and until forty years ago, in the liturgy of the Catholic Church. It is the unseen substance that makes us members of the Western world.

In his erudite and entertaining "biography," Nicholas Ostler shows how and why (against the odds, through conquest from within and without) Latin survived and thrived even as its creators and other languages failed. Originally the dialect of Rome and its surrounds, Latin supplanted its neighbors to become, by conquest and settlement, the language of all Italy, and then of Western Europe and North Africa. Its cultural creep toward Greek in the East led it to copy and then ally with it in an unprecedented, but invincible combination: Greek theory and Roman practice, delivered through Latin, became the foundation of Western civilization. Christianity, a latecomer, then joined the alliance, and became vital to Latin's survival when the empire collapsed. Spoken Latin re-emerged as a host of new languages, from Portuguese and Spanish in the west to Romanian in the east. But a knowledge of Latin lived on as the common code of European thought, and inspired the founders of Europe's New World in the Americas. E pluribus unum .

Illuminating the extravaganza of its past, Nicholas Ostler makes clear that, in a thousand echoes, Latin lives on, ad infinitum.

Publisher: New York : Walker & Co, 2007.
ISBN: 9780802715159
080271515X
Branch Call Number: 470.9 OSTLER
Characteristics: 382 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm.

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majadirks
Jul 24, 2019

The physical edition is great. The digital edition has a lot of typos in the Latin. There are pairs of words where the spacing is off (i.e. in the middle of one of the words instead of between them), weird things that look like OCR errors (e.g. "tarn" for "tam"), and sometimes incorrect words (e.g. "foribus ornamur - we are decorated with doors" instead of "floribus ornamur - we are decorated with flowers"). Still readable, especially if the Latin typos don't bother you, but if you care about the quality of the Latin, borrow the physical edition.

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partridgeys
Feb 08, 2018

This book does more to recount the history of Europe than to detail the specifics of the history and progression of Latin. Frequently strays away from its thesis and gets into history that is indeed interesting but not always entirely relevant. That said it does in the end accomplish its task by giving the reader insight into Latin through the ages.

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annsum
Mar 15, 2013

For anyone interested in etymology, Latin, Greek, and the history of those languages-I'd say a must for anyone teaching or learning Latin who is unfamiliar with its history. The only con is that reader must be willing to wade through dense material and vast fields of footnotes. Some of best-researched material I've seen.

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annsum
Mar 15, 2013

For anyone interested in etymology, Latin, Greek, and the history of those languages-I'd say a must for anyone teaching or learning Latin who is unfamiliar with its history. The only con is that reader must be willing to wade through dense material and vast fields of footnotes. Some of best-researched material I've seen.

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