- Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
- Turn to page 56.
- Find the fifth sentence.
- Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note to your wall or on your blog. Please post your quote in a comment to this post as well.
It is thus clear that, except for the rulers and the literate, language could hardly be a criterion of nationhood, and even for these it was first necessary to choose a national vernacular (in a standardized literary form) over the more prestigious languages, holy or classical or both, which were, for small elites, perfectly practicable means of administrative or intellectual communication, public debate, or even — one thinks of classical Persian in the Mughal Empire, classical Chinese in Heian Japan — of literary composition.
Hobsbawm, Eric J. Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.