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The book starts with a discussion of the period of hunters and gatherers, when there was a huge number of languages. It moves on to Greek and Latin, to French and Italian, and naturally a full discussion of English. Many other languages are treated, from Setswana in southern Africa to the Creole language of Nevis in the West Indies. Hanson presents languages and cultures in a lively way, with concrete examples and, often, small samples from literary works. Although no knowledge of foreign languages is required, the book provides astonishing insights into many cultures and their languages. At the same time, it identifies long terms trends in history that may allow us to make predictions about the future.
"Accomplishes its task in a very elegant and living way . Amazing ability to put together historical data and illuminating comments about languages."--Linguist
1. Languages before History