From the Foreword: Latin and its Romance descendants are here placed in the framework of three great forces that act upon language and tend to shape it-history, geography (including demography), and psychology. This book is primarily an attempt to balance these three factors and present them in proper perspective. Historians of language have occasionally tended to underestimate the last two; structural linguists the first two. It is only the recently created "third force" in linguistics (geolinguistics) that has properly considered the role of geography and demography in the evolution of language, past, present, and future. The part played by dramatic historical events and manifestations of raw power in determining the evolution of language and the relative importance of languages cannot be minimized, as is the tendency with some researchers. What would be the linguistic and cultural picture of the world today if "history had gone the other way"? If Greece had succumbed to the might of Persia at Marathon and Salamis, would our international words today be Iranian rather than Greek? If Carthage had overcome Rome, or if the Arabs had defeated the Franks at the battle of Tours, would be of the West be living today in a Semitic rather than an Indo-European world? If Harold's Saxons at Hastings had thrown William's Normans back into the sea, would this book not be written and read in a tongue far closer to German than present-day English actually is?
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