Books

This will be an occasional space for showing features of my books that, for one reason or another, could not be clarified on the printed page.

Already Published

Empires of the Word – a language history of the world
UK   US

Empires of the Word

Published by Harper Collins UK/USA, 2005
The best cover (to date) of the various editions is on the UK hardback, as here.
It fills the space occupied by each major language (if at very different times in their histories, so, e.g., Latin fills western Europe while English fills the area of the USA) with characteristic sentiments for that language community. They are all texts of some saying that appears as epigraph to a chapter or section, with the exception of Canada's Cree syllabics, the Uighur script for Mongolian, Australia's Latin and New Zealand's English, though even there I hope that something relevant is written. Madagascar contains a special joke from the artist, Dominic Forbes. Iceland was notoriously omitted in this first version: it was back in the UK paperback.

Meanwhile, the compass rose uses a medley of symbols from Europe, China, Egypt and Guatemala, and the title's 'Word' is burnt through – yes, that is real charring – with Egyptian hieroglyphs, in another message from the book. (You can find review's here)

Ad Infinitum – a biography of Latin (and the world it created)
UK   US

AD Infinitum Nicholas Ostler


Published by Harper Collins UK and Walker Books/Bloomsbury USA, 2007

This parenthesized phrase in the title – which is actually quite true to the book's content – is only found in the UK paperback version which only came out in November 2009. To my mind this also has the most attractive jacket, which even contains a puff in Latin (echoing Apuleius' optimistic lead-in for his Metamorphoses). (You can find review's here)




The Last Lingua Franca – English until the Return to Babel
UK   US

AD Infinitum Nicholas Ostler

Published by Penguin in the UK on 11 November, and by Walker Books/Bloomsbury in the USA on 1 December, 2010.
This is the cover for the US edition. I am still trying to work out if it shows the English language preserved in a bell-jar, or as a message in a bottle. (You can find review's here)