Steve Fuller

Experimenting in Tongues

Scientific Babel: The Language of Science from the Fall of Latin to the Rise of English

By

Profile Books 415pp £25 order from our bookshop

English is the global scientific language – and has been for some time. That much is obvious. What is not so obvious is why. Although Scientific Babel is presented as a history of the very idea of a global scientific language, Michael Gordin, a Princeton-based historian of 19th- and 20th-century physical sciences, is really interested in fathoming the ascendancy of English. Nowadays, Spanish is actually the European language with the most native speakers, but English has the most second-language speakers. And that’s what counts when it comes to being the global scientific language. Indeed, Spanish was never a serious contender in the global scientific sweepstakes. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,
    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,