Today most of us speak, think and dream in imperial languages that were forced upon our ancestors by the sword. Most East Asians speak and dream in the language of the Han Empire. No matter what their origins, nearly all the inhabitants of the two American continents, from Alaska’s Barrow Peninsula to the Straits of Magellan, communicate in one of four imperial languages: Spanish, Portuguese, French or English. Present-day Egyptians speak Arabic, think of themselves as Arabs, and identify wholeheartedly with the Arab Empire that conquered Egypt in the seventh century and crushed with an iron fist the repeated revolts that broke out against its rule. About 10 million Zulus in South Africa hark back to the Zulu age of glory in the nineteenth century, even though most of them descend from tribes who fought against the Zulu Empire, and were incorporated into it only through bloody military campaigns.

– Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2011)

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