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The Story of English in 100 Words

de David Crystal

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In this unique new history of the world's most ubiquitous language, linguistics expert David Crystal draws on words that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences, and events that have helped to shape our vernacular since the first definitively English word was written down in the fifth century ("roe," in case you are wondering). Featuring Latinate and Celtic words, weasel words and nonce-words, ancient words ("loaf") to cutting-edge words ("twittersphere"), and spanning the indispensable words that shape our tongue ("and," "what") to the more fanciful ("fopdoodle"), Crystal takes us along the winding byways of language via the rude, the obscure, and the downright surprising.… (més)
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Anglès (23)  Suec (1)  Totes les llengües (24)
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I thoroughly enjoyed this look at the English language. David Crystal presents 100 words, each one illustrating a concept in the development and evolution of our language. He talks about borrowed words, spelling changes, suffixes becoming words, the influence of new technologies on language development. Absolutely fascinating! ( )
  LynnB | Mar 14, 2021 |
Very clever. Crystal uses each word as a starting point for a brief discussion on the ways our language has changed and developed over the centuries, reminding us all of the idiocy of such movements as "language reform", and of the joy we should feel every time we piece together a sentence. We're not just using a language. We're working with a breathing mass of orphans, stragglers, immigrants, and naturalised citizens from so many languages and cultures, now working together in an often unstable and cacophonic new world. And I love it. ( )
  therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
I'm a word nerd, so I found this book very interesting and very accessible. After very short historical explanation of how the English language came to be. "...English is a vacuum cleaner of a language, whose users suck in words from other languages whenever they encounter them." Crystal has chosen 100 words to examine and analyze, looking at their contribution the language as a whole. Each word has a brief explanation, that is humorously and thoughtfully written. Examples: roe -- 5th century -- 1st written English word, identifiable as such. It was carved on a deer bone -- naming it as from a certain species. Some other fun examples: bone-house, a word painting (kenning) from the 10th century to mean the human body. "cuckoo" -- 13th century -- a word that describes a sound (onomatopoeia) more than the creature; Watergate -- the use of a place name (toponym) as a noun or verb; strine -- a word coined for comic effect, usually playing off its pronunciation, more than its actual spelling. (e.g. "ickle, = little sly drool = slide rule). The most important word of the 20th century? "jazz." If this book doesn't help you win Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit, nothing will. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Excellent. Very readable and entertaining. ( )
  GeoffSC | Jul 25, 2020 |
An interesting collection of words that Crystal thinks defines the English language. Either because they are new, or have been borrowed from all the people that have invaded in the past. If you like language, well worth a read. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
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In this unique new history of the world's most ubiquitous language, linguistics expert David Crystal draws on words that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences, and events that have helped to shape our vernacular since the first definitively English word was written down in the fifth century ("roe," in case you are wondering). Featuring Latinate and Celtic words, weasel words and nonce-words, ancient words ("loaf") to cutting-edge words ("twittersphere"), and spanning the indispensable words that shape our tongue ("and," "what") to the more fanciful ("fopdoodle"), Crystal takes us along the winding byways of language via the rude, the obscure, and the downright surprising.

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