Books Published

Return to Intro

This page is a space reserved for showing features of my books that, for one reason or another, could not be clarified on the printed page.

Emp_UKhbEmpires of the Word – a language history of the world

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 reviews here)

Return to Intro

AdInf_UKpbAd Infinitum – a biography of Latin (and the world it created)

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 reviews here)

LLF_USThe Last Lingua Franca – English until the Return to Babel

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 reviews here)

Return to Intro


P2PPasswords to Paradise – How Languages Have Re-invented World Religions

Many great languages bear the marks of service to missionary religions: for example, Sanskrit of Mahayana Buddhism, Latin of Catholic Christianity, Arabic of Islam. But what of the reverse effect? Can we detect religious developments caused by missionaries’ need to win over, or conquer, new language communities? This book aims to find out.

Published by Bloomsbury in the USA on 23 February 2016, and in the UK on 21 April this same year. (You can find reviews here)

Return to Intro