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How Language Works: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning and Languages Live or Die [Paperback]

David Crystal
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Mar 2007
In this fascinating survey of everything from how sounds become speech to how names work, David Crystal answers every question you might ever have had about the nuts and bolts of language in his usual highly illuminating way. Along the way we find out about eyebrow flashes, whistling languages, how parents teach their children to speak, how politeness travels across languages and how the way we talk show not just how old we are but where we’re from and even who we want to be.

Frequently Bought Together

How Language Works: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning and Languages Live or Die + The Stories of English + Good to Talk?: Living and Working in a Communication Culture
Price For All Three: 36.77

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (29 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141015527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141015521
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

About the Author

David Crystal is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. He has published over ninety books, most recently The Stories of English, and is the editor of The Penguin Encyclopaedia. In 1995, he was awarded the OBE for services to the English language. He lives in Holyhead, Anglesey.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good All Rounder 30 May 2007
By Emma
Format:Paperback
This book provides easy going summaries of everything to do with language. Students of linguistics will find it useful as it contains a background to all the usual things included in a linguistics degree from phonology to the origins of language. Invaluable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How language workd 14 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As with all books by David Crystal - a serious subject explained in a fascinating way and with added humour throughout - a must for all students of languages and English at school and university....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The text is soooo small 3 Jun 2013
By Nel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Be warned - the text on the pages are sooo small, trying to read it causes extreme eye strain and I constantly fall asleep trying to read it. I bought it for my uni course, but in all truth, have struggled to read enough of it to be of any use.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable 12 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Crystal has this enviable ability to explain what is fundamentally complex clearly and comprehensively. Language and languages were my professional business when working. I just wish that much of what he has to say had been available when I was still active in the field. His comments on what should be taught in schools are especially valuable as the UK at last seems to be stirring out of its linguistic imperialism and indolence. Should be required reading for all involved in teaching.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Why do languages die? How are they born? How do we make speech sounds? How do we write? All these questions and many more are asked and answered in this fascinating book by one of the countries leading authorities on the english language - David Crystal.

I actually only bought this as it was on my university reading list, but I have since developed a keen interest in language and ended up buying his other book 'stories of English'!. (equally worthy of your hard earned cash)

And to the negative reviewer below; this is a book about how language works, not about how the study of language works.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For what it is. 29 April 2012
Format:Paperback
David Crystal describes the his preface the the what this book is. It is a collection of short essays, very clearly written, on 73 topic mostly headed "How....' They are carefully arranged but not designed for continuous reading. The essays are not "encyclopaedia entries", more overviews of the topic in hand... for example 'How Language Changes'. Students (and teachers) will find it a good starting point for a topic of interest. But there lies its weakness... It's bibliography is brief and it's index is conventional.

I tackled several of the essays which interested me. Some I followed up on Google. Others, which I casually dipped into, added to my stock of 'could come in useful' things to know. The book is worth a place on my shelves.
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