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December 3, - Published on Amazon. Verified Purchase. So, do not expect to learn the story of English in this book. On the other hand, we should ask ourselves: is that possible to tell the story of English in words? If you would choose hundred words to represent the English language, they would certainly be different.

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I did not read the story of English, but I learned lots of curious aspects of English language. May 13, - Published on Amazon. The "Story of English in Words" is intended to merge two approaches to writing about the English language. One approach is to discuss themes and trends within major periods of development, as author David Crystal has done in other volumes.

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Another approach involves "wordbooks" or "phrase books" that examine the etymology of particular words or the origins of certain phrases. In an effort to reconcile these two techniques, Crystal has selected the words he offers here because each tells part of the story of how the English language developed, all the way through to contemporary usage.

Crystal largely succeeds in his attempt, though I think the result still ends up being more of an etymology book than a systemic history of English. Still, it's a fun and highlighy readable narrative, and as a bonus you'll actually learn the stories of far more than words--while each of the chapters uses a single word as its starting point, Crystal introduces many other words and phrases for illustration and comparison. There are plenty of illuminating moments.

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Chapter 4, for example, explores the history of the word "loaf", a word that started out as the Anglo-Saxon "hlaf" during the 9th Century. The head of a household was a "hlaf-weard," literally a bread warden; the woman of the house was a "hlaefdige," a bread-kneader the word "dige" is related to the modern "dough".

David Crystal - The Story of English in 100 Words Audiobook

Hlaf-weard changed in the 14th century, as people quit pronouncing the "f", leading eventually to "lahrd" and finally to "lord. It's interesting to learn that the words "lord" and "lady" derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word for a loaf of bread, which speaks volumes about the subsistence level of the Medieval English economy--such people were important because they controlled the food supply, not just because they owned bags of gold.

June 18, - Published on Amazon. I bought this after reading a quite positive review in the San Francisco Chronicle's Books section, since I have an ongoing interest in the English language. It's not my mother tongue, but I feel I've mastered it quite well after living in the US for 17 years. Sadly, while it was often amusing, the work did not live up to my expectations.

A history of English in 100 words

It's perhaps best described as short "columns" about random aspects of etymology and word formation. Each column takes specific word as a starting point, but usually that word is just a conversation starter.

Sadly, many of the conversations don't go very deep. The least interesting ones degenerate in long lists of words that "also" follow a specific pattern. The best ones taught me interesting things I didn't know before, but there just weren't enough of these. Some of the worst ones seemed to just be improvisations, discussing some of the author's opinions on non-language-related subjects or telling almost-funny jokes.

'The Story of English in Words': review - SFGate

The author is also quite keen on the new words brought to us by the age of the Internet. Sadly, he appears to be a rather casual Internet user and doesn't have much to add. Often when he tries to show off his knowledge of Internet jargon he misses the mark by emphasizing terms already obsolete or getting them slightly wrong. I suspect he's using some secondary sources.


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  4. Nothing seems unlistable. But, what about trying to capture the entire development of the English language—now peaking at some two billion speakers worldwide and a lexicon of more than a million words including dialects and technical terms? David Crystal , a North Wales-based linguist and scholar of the English language has taken it upon himself to pick out the hundred words that tell the story of the mother tongue since the Anglo-Saxons first arrived on the British Isles and started writing it down some 1, years ago.

    And while Americans love to make books full of lists , it seems somehow so much more British to take one list and expand it out into a book. Crystal, who has written or edited nearly half a hundred books on the English language, took to the pages of The Telegraph this week to explain his process:. It has to represent a whole class of words. It has to tell a story.

    get link And each of these individual stories should add up to the history of the English language as a whole. When I embarked on this project, some words gave me no choice. They just had to be in — such as the earliest example of a written word in the language. Thanks to an exciting archaeological find, we know this to be roe. That starts the story. And the latest word to arrive? Well, as new words come into the language every day, all I could do here is choose an example which points to the future.

    I picked Twittersphere.