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The Stories of English [Paperback]

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Item Number 442989  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   584
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 7.75"
Weight:   1.15 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 6, 2005
Publisher   Overlook TP
ISBN  1585677191  
EAN  9781585677191  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
An innovative history of the English language draws on the rich diversity of dialects of nonstandard English speakers and regional accents all around the world, as well as the dialects that appear in a variety of literary classics, to explain the colorful variety and significance of the language. Reprint.

Buy The Stories of English by David Crystal from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781585677191 & 1585677191

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More About David Crystal

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David Crystal is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. In 1995, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to the English language. He lives in the United Kingdom.

David Crystal currently resides in Holyhead. David Crystal was born in 1941 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University College of North Wales Bangor University University College.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > England > General   [11650  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Reference > General   [18144  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Reference > Words & Language > Linguistics   [3266  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Good analysis.  Aug 6, 2007
I have a minor in linguistics and love this subject, so it's a book I pick up from time to time and just read bits and pieces. It's wonderfully well-written and the scholarship is great. If you think you know all there is to know about the history of English, think again: I've learned so much and I haven't even finished it yet!
Interesting and informative  Apr 11, 2007
I have spoken English all my life, but I did not know much about its history and evolution. This book provided answers to most of my questions and did so in a most entertaining manner. It covers English, from its Anglo-Saxon roots, through Middle English, to Standard English and beyond.

I was a bit surprised not to see any reference to the author's background on the book cover or inside of the book. It was therefore a leap of faith to start a 500+ page book without this information. A brief Internet search revealed that the author is a University professor in Wales, the author of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of English Language and has produced TV programs on English in Great Britain. I guess he is so well know "over the pond" so as not to require any biography on the book cover. (Among the things that I learned was that it is perfectly OK to use "over the pond", even without the quotation marks).

Professor Crystal makes a strong case for non-standard English existing alongside Standard English (whose origin he explains). He covers the many different standards, both those such as American English, which has been accepted as a standard and varieties such as Indian English which are only just beginning to become standards in their own right.

The book covers the development of English, its spelling, grammar and pronunciation. In my opinion the greatest benefit of this book is to counter some of the ridged proscriptive rules, thereby allowing a writer to become more comfortable getting their point across, instead of being hobbled by arcane and illogical rules. My only criticism is than too little space is devoted to the evolution of the other forms of English, i.e., American, Australian, South African, Caribbean, African, etc. and the variations within each of these. The topic of the other English's is covered, but not to the degree that I would have liked to have seen. Perhaps, there will be another book, something along the lines of "The Stories of Other English's".
Scholarly, yes, but so much fun  Mar 28, 2007
If you want light reading, Bill Bryson's books are probably a better bet. Or try _The Story of English_, based on the PBS series. But if you are interested in a good college-level introduction to the subject that is much cheaper, and FAR more fun, than your standard textbook, this is for you. Dip in here and there or read it straight through. Crystal doesn't water down his material, but he doesn't write like a scholar either. Get his _The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language_, and you've got a very cheap education.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About English  Jan 11, 2007
Definitley not mind candy. Reading it requires close attention, but the reward for such is worth that attention. A thorough compendium (redundancy intended)of a fascinating subject. If anything, a little more information than needed by an average reader. Scholars in the subject might find it easier, because the "story" can get tied up in details. More than losing the forest for the trees; it sometimes loses the trees for the leaves.
From Anglo-Saxon to modern English  Apr 25, 2006
David Crystal makes an ambitious attempt to provide a scholarly account of the development of the forms of English that we speak today from the highly inflected language -- virtually unintelligible to the modern English speaker -- that existed before the Norman Conquest. It is not primarily an academic work, as it largely avoids the technicalities involved in analysing and reconstructing the grammar and vocabulary of historical forms of English, but it is uncompromising in providing a wealth of examples from over the centuries. It is not light reading, therefore, but it is perfectly accessible to anyone who makes the effort.

There are at least two surprising aspects of the early history of English that Crystal tries to explain. First of all, how did it pass from the Anglo-Saxon of the 11th Century to the Middle English of the 14th, recognizably the same language that we speak today, in such a short time, with relatively little change in the longer period since? Nearly all of the old inflections disappeared in this period, and a torrent of words of French origin were adopted. Clearly this happened during a time when English was not the language of power in England, as the rulers were speaking French. That in itself brings us to the second surprise, one that is rarely pointed out, but is obvious once it is: why was it English that ultimately survived in England, and not the language of the conquerors? In other cases, such as the use of Portuguese in modern Brazil, it is the language of the conquerors that displaces whatever existed before. As with all such questions there is no one simple answer, but Crystal explains this partly in terms of the relatively small numbers of the Normans -- always a small minority in the country they had conquered, and partly in terms of increasing political rivalry between England and France, with increasing awareness of England as a country in its own right.

As English before the 17th century evolved entirely in the British Isles, and as the major changes occurred before then, it is inevitable that the diversification of the language into American and other modern variants comes late in the book. One can hardly describe the American English of a time when American English did not exist. Thus the complaint by an earlier reviewer of a British bias is not justified, and the later chapters discuss all of the variants of English that exist today.

The organization of the book is somewhat unusual: each chapter presenting a fairly conventional account of the development of English is followed by an "interlude" that discusses some feature, often an anomaly, that is not easily understood in terms of the conventional picture. This is a useful touch, and helps to emphasize the reality that many forms of English have always existed simultaneously, from the various forms spoken by the different Germanic tribes who arrived in England after the middle of the 5th century, right up to the present day.

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