The Story of English in 100 Words

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I find that my attention can drift and if that happens when he is moving from one word to another I can get a little lost. Although I am an enthusiastic audio listener this is perhaps better on the eye than the ear. Professor David Crystal is, without doubt, the English language expert.

This tour of English words is at times illuminating, humorous and extraordinarily well informed. He takes the listener through a semi-chronological tour of words to illustrate various linguistic points of interest. Where this audiobook excels is in the fact that it is in the authors own voice, helping to bridge the awkward 'how is this word pronounced' gap experienced in written texts.

An excellent and fun book and highly recommended. An excellent book, full of warmth, wit and erudition. David Crystal is a master of his subject and a great narrator. A brilliant book, wonderfully executed. I love his authoritative, but never patronising, tone. I am fascinated by the history of English, but with so many great books out there I approached this one cautiously.

It was a very pleasant surprise.

David Crystal - Texts and Tweets: myths and realities

Well narrated by the author always a plus it is an entertaining ramble through the language broken into manageable bite-sized chunks based on individual words. I enjoyed it a lot. Listen to this - and learn. I really enjoyed the non academic, conversive style of this book and was thoroughly entertained throughout.

The reader was excellent too which helped, no easy task breathing life into an occasional list of alternative spellings. I would recommend for anyone with a vague I treat in words as it's a gentle exploration. By: David Crystal. Narrated by: David Crystal. Length: 7 hrs and 56 mins. Categories: History , British.

Critic Reviews "Here's a delight you shouldn't miss. True, not everyone has an abiding interest in linguistics, but David Crystal's method of focusing on single and representative words produces fascinating results, and surprising breadth. Words like 'able,' 'and,' 'ain't,' 'alphabet,' and 'dude' have their individual history, illustrate some historic feature of language, and mark the development of English from long ago to the present day.

The idea was to choose words, each of which represented a strand in the history of the English language. The hope was that, jigsaw-like, at the end of the book the reader would have gained a perspective on English vocabulary as a whole. But you can never satisfy a litfest audience. It would have to be perspective. And there was a time when I played a game with myself, ensuring that everything I wrote contained the word somewhere or other.

The obvious one is chronological. The history of English is traditionally divided into periods: Old English, from the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons in AD until the 11th century; Middle English from then until the 15th century; Early Modern English from then until the 18th century; and Modern English thereafter. But words are more than just linguistic objects.

A history of English in words | Express Yourself | Comment |

They are windows into the world of those who use them. Part of the challenge, then, is to find words that best give us a real insight into social history. For the Anglo-Saxons, my choice included loaf and mead, street and lea. For the medieval period, swain and pork, dame and royal. For the time of Shakespeare and the King James Bible, alphabet and dialect, shibboleth and potato. For the next centuries, gazette and fopdoodle, lunch and tea.

They make interesting bedfellows. At any one time language is a kaleidoscope of styles, genres and dialects.

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The story of English has to show these differences too. In particular, the words we use when we speak are not the same as those we use when we write. Far more people speak a non-standard variety of English than speak standard English, and their story must also be told. A literary history of Twitter. Is literature the new rock and roll? Booker Prize rival only shows up the vastness of literature. Nor must we neglect the commonest everyday words. Word books traditionally focus on unusual and quirky items. They tend to ignore the words that provide the skeleton of the language, without which it would fall apart, such as and and what, or words that provide structure to our conversation, such as hello.

These get my full attention. Apart from anything else, they provide some of the best stories — as do slang, cant and taboo words. The rude words are just as much a part of our linguistic history, and they have to be represented too.


I chose three, in this article, blushingly represented by their initials, A, B and C. Professional words, such as those associated with the law, medicine, religion and academia, provide another historical strand. Of the million plus words in English, three quarters belong to the various domains of science and technology. Words such as species, billion and DNA represent the tip of a huge lexical iceberg of scientific terminology. A feature of English that makes it different compared with all other languages is its global spread. All have contributed many words to English, as shown by skunk and taffeta, dinkum and dude, mipela and lakh.

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Nor must a word book forget the nuts and bolts of language. Vocabulary is a matter of word-building as well as word-using. Most words in English are in fact derived from other words.

The Story of English in 100 Words The Story of English in 100 Words
The Story of English in 100 Words The Story of English in 100 Words
The Story of English in 100 Words The Story of English in 100 Words
The Story of English in 100 Words The Story of English in 100 Words
The Story of English in 100 Words The Story of English in 100 Words
The Story of English in 100 Words The Story of English in 100 Words
The Story of English in 100 Words The Story of English in 100 Words
The Story of English in 100 Words The Story of English in 100 Words

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