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The Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left (2006)

de David Crystal

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2641076,035 (3.99)30
"Angst over the apostrophe and hysteria over hyphens: the English language has become a combat zone. Why are people so passionate about language? How has the fighting over English usage come about?" "David Crystal charts the clashes from Anglo-Saxon times via the language of Shakespeare and Samuel Johnson to our own time of texting and the greengrocer's apostrophe. While others have fought to impose their views on spelling and grammar, David Crystal - as ever scholarly yet entertaining - explains why we should say no to zero tolerance."--BOOK JACKET.… (més)
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    The Story of English de Robert McCrum (davidt8)
    davidt8: Another history of the English Language, companion book for the TV series.
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Parts of it are basically [b:The Stories of English|207741|The Stories of English|David Crystal|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388276993s/207741.jpg|385460] Lite. Crystal explores the successions of language critics in an entertaining fashion, but spends too long discussing the British National Curriculum. The whole book is basically an argument against the zero tolerance approach to English.

On second thought, giving it 3.5 stars for helping identify why I so dislike sentence fragments that leave me looking for the verb. Or rather, for identifying why I'd be looking for a verb that isn't there.

[Answer: really long subjects are hard to parse in English, so I hold that long subject in my head for the length of the fragment (which takes effort), don't find it, backtrack, still don't find it, etc. Lesson: avoid long subjects and pointless sentence fragments.] ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
A very enjoyable book on the history and cultural issues that have brought us to our current usage of English today. He argues a bit too strongly to separate himself from the prescriptive barons of the English language. Yet at the end of the book we find that he too needs some prescriptive rules to take us into the green pastures of communicative clarity. I would have given him five stars but for the fact that he didn't have a chapter on profanity! ( )
  SamTekoa | Jan 3, 2017 |
Inspired by another popular text, Crystal argues strongly for the descriptivist approach to language education and appreciation, especially in the bizarrenesses that are Modern English variants. ( )
  cjrecordvt | Aug 13, 2016 |
Just happen to be reading this at the same time as [b:You Have a Point There: A New & Complete Guide to Punctuation|1411860|You Have a Point There A New & Complete Guide to Punctuation|Eric Partridge|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327883966s/1411860.jpg|1402181]. Interesting juxtaposition of Prescriptive and Descriptive - but both authors have some respect for both perspectives so it's cool.

Ok Done. Wow. What a great overview from Abbot AElfric through Johnson and Webster up to [a:Lynne Truss|5571|Lynne Truss|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1215628380p2/5571.jpg] about all the different ways people have tried to bring order to the English language, and to impose their standards on others. More than just a history, though, and not a usage manual - a graceful and witty and quick read that really gets at the heart of the prescriptive/descriptive debate and even provides great hope for the future. After all, as he points out, a talented mechanic is not necessarily a great driver, and a competent grammarian isn't necessarily an effective communicator. But people can learn any skill, if well taught.

I'm thinking about tossing all my other language books out unread. But several of them are by Crystal, so probably I won't. ;)

Must reading for anyone interested in grammar, spelling, pronunciation, or vocabulary. Strongly recommended for fans of [b:Eats, Shoots & Leaves|228579|Eats, Shoots & Leaves The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation|Lynne Truss|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1386924010s/228579.jpg|854886] and for journalists and other writers. I'd love to put it in the hands of every pedant I know - but as I'm one of them I'm not sure this will be going a'roaming any time soon. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
A simply, but entertainingly-written reposte to language pedants. Crystal manages in this short book to cover the history of and main arguments for and against correct usage. His own view - that language use should suit its context and that while there are rules for language use, clarity of meaning is most important - is well laid-out. Crystal is not the 'anything goes' relativist he has been depicted as, and while he points out the faults he sees in books by Lynne Truss and John Humphreys, he is also hugely sympathetic to their motivations. ( )
1 vota Schopflin | Nov 11, 2011 |
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"Angst over the apostrophe and hysteria over hyphens: the English language has become a combat zone. Why are people so passionate about language? How has the fighting over English usage come about?" "David Crystal charts the clashes from Anglo-Saxon times via the language of Shakespeare and Samuel Johnson to our own time of texting and the greengrocer's apostrophe. While others have fought to impose their views on spelling and grammar, David Crystal - as ever scholarly yet entertaining - explains why we should say no to zero tolerance."--BOOK JACKET.

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