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The Story of English [Paperback]

Robert McCrum
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: £12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 May 2011
The Story of English is the extraordinary tale of the origins and development of the English language. Two thousand years ago English was confined to a handful of savage tribes on the shores of north-west Europe; today, in one form or another, it is spoken by a billion people around the world. More widely scattered, written and spoken than any other language in history, English has become a global phenomenon. Exploring its amazing success, The Story of English is an essential companion for student and general reader alike.

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The Story of English + Mother Tongue: The Story of the English Language
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (5 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571275087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571275083
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 374,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A modern classic. --Sunday Times

A first-rate introduction to one of the most fascinating of subjects. --New York Times

Book Description

From the author of Globish, an acclaimed history of the English Language.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This books is enlightening, it gives a clear picture of how English language began and spread around the world.furthermore, it gives a realistic look at the future of English. Whether you're a native speaker or a L2 learner, you'll enjoy discovering how English gained such a large vocabulary.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great - intellectually stimulating 17 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The title doesn't do this book justice. It's a fascinating look into how English has developed as a language, really accessible for those starting English Language study but with enough academic bite to satisfy more advanced needs.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Many rivers lead to the sea... 3 Feb 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Ralph Waldo Emerson once remarked of English that it is 'the sea which receives tributaries from every region under heaven.'
The English language is certainly a sea of words and constructs which has been fed into by almost every major language and ethnic tradition in the world. English began as a hodge-podge of languages, never pretending to the 'purity' of more continental or extra-European languages (which, by the by, were never quite as pure as they like to assume).
The book `The Story of English', as a companion piece to accompany the PBS-produced series of the same name, hosted by Robert MacNeil, late of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, is an articulate, engaging, wide-ranging and fair exposition of an ordinarily difficult and dry subject.
The study of English is difficult on several levels. 'Until the invention of the gramophone and the tape-recorder there was no reliable way of examining everyday speech.' What did English sound like 200 years ago, or 400 years ago? 'English is--and has always been--in a state of ungovernable change, and the limits of scholarship are demonstrated by phrases like the famous 'Great Vowel Shift', hardly more informative than the 'unknown land' of early cartography.'
Of course, written language has until modern times been the limited and limiting commodity of a very small minority of people. The balance between the written and spoken language has a variable history, which can still be seen today (compare the writing of the New York Times against the speech patterns and vocabulary choices of any dozen persons you will find on the street in New York City, and this divergence will be readily apparent).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating 23 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
McCrum takes the reader on an exciting journey through the history of English with a style that is truly captivating. Most enjoyable!
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