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English as a Global Language Paperback – 28 Jul 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (28 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521530326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521530323
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 629,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

David Crystal works from his home in Holyhead, North Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster. He published the first of his 100 or so books in 1964, and became known chiefly for his research work in English language studies. He held a chair at the University of Reading for 10 years, and is now Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor.

Product Description


'A masterly synopsis of the spread of English across the world … English as a Global Language arrives as an elegant successor to Robert McCrum's The Story of English, published in 1986. It is at the same time cool and immensely authoritative. Less than half the size, but with scarcely less text than its richly illustrated Rolls-Royce predecessor, it sets a new standard in the popularisation of linguistics.' Sir John Hanson (Director-General of The British, The Times Higher Education Supplement

'This little book is a cross between a tourist guide and a no-nonsense school textbook ... Crystal is skilled at assembling scattered yet useful data in a form that seems safe and reliable. He presents enough facts and figures to make readers feel that they are getting good value for their time and money … The book's value is clear. It is a judicious mix of outline facts and good sense about language ... Overall, this commonsensical little book will be a useful tool for spreading the important message that English is not supreme because it is superior … , that English is not declining, and that it would be a tragedy if English alone remained among languages.' Jean Aitchison, Times Educational Supplement

'This is a fascinating and useful book... a fine introduction for a wide variety of potential users.' Choice

'Crystal provides us with an excellent account of the growth of English as the global language.' Good Book Guide

Book Description

This new edition of David Crystal's influential book contains extra sections on subjects including the future of English as a world language, English on the Internet, and the possibility of an English 'family' of languages; footnotes; new tables; and a full bibliography. There are updates throughout.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jon on 10 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating review of how the English Language got to its present position of world dominance. David Crystal is not, contrary to Daniel's review, a linguistic imperialist. He lives in Wales, speaks Welsh, and champions minority languages. But he also understands that an interconnected world needs a global lingua franca, which will be a second language for the great majority.
From Daniel's review, you might get the impression that Crystal advocates fertilizer bags having instructions only in English. In fact, Crystal is quoting the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, who said that farmers in her country should learn English as a second language, since international companies were never going to print instructions on fertilizer bags in Sinhalese. She was simply being realistic.
Crystal recognises that the dominance of English today is the result of chance, the language repeatedly being in the right place at the right time. If English had not become the common second language, another language would have done so. Crystal gives us the reasons for English's rise, the history, the effects on other languages and some predictions of where its going. It's quite a short book, and I would have preferred more detailed discussion in places. But it's certainly worthwhile reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Annie Martirosyan on 18 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an extremely interesting, accurate and comprehensive review of the status of English in the world. Being the second edition, all the data are revised and information is updated. David Crystal presents a neat review of English in all the spheres of life - cinema, broadcasting, politics and elsewhere, providing with dates of "first recorded usages" and later development of the language in a certain field. There is a section of New Englishes, where illustrative points from emerging varieties are presented in reference to vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and discourse. David Crystal also makes invaluable speculations about the emerging syllable-timed nature of New Englishes and presents the conflict over the officiality of English in the USA. There is an absolute balance of presentation of the positive and negative sides of English on the global scale, its side effects and benefits. Alongside his neutral, from-the-outside observations, Professor quotes other authors' opinions about the situation, both favourable and pejorative.
On the whole, the book is very comprehensive, detailed, learned and extremely interesting, claiming the expert hand that wrote it.
I advise everybody to read this must-run book, also to enjoy the sistering "Language Death", which I am going to do soon.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
Short and to the point, this provides an overveiw of how English came to be a global language, the different status it has worldwide and the issues it raises. It's a slim volume and it won't take long to read but it's an interesting subject and makes you realise how lucky you are if English is your first language. I read right after doing a Teaching English as a Forign Language course so it was an illuminating look at where in the world I could go.
However it sometimes lacks detail and leaves you wanting more, but don't let that put you off - it's an interesting introduction to a subject I intend to learn more about.
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By Mónica de la Riva on 15 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting and a good overall view of the power of English in the language scenario nowadays
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