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Think On My Words: Exploring Shakespeare's Language [Paperback]

David Crystal
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Think On My Words: Exploring Shakespeare's Language (Canto Classics) Think On My Words: Exploring Shakespeare's Language (Canto Classics)
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Book Description

21 Feb 2008
'You speak a language that I understand not.' Hermione's words to Leontes in The Winter's Tale are likely to ring true with many people reading or watching Shakespeare's plays today. For decades, people have been studying Shakespeare's life and times, and in recent years there has been a renewed surge of interest into aspects of his language. So how can we better understand Shakespeare? How did he manipulate language to produce such an unrivalled body of work, which has enthralled generations both as theatre and as literature? David Crystal addresses these and many other questions in this lively and original introduction to Shakespeare's language. Covering in turn the five main dimensions of language structure - writing system, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and conversational style - the book shows how examining these linguistic 'nuts and bolts' can help us achieve a greater appreciation of Shakespeare's linguistic creativity.


Product details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (21 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521700353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521700351
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 407,443 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

Review

'In this authoritative and attractively written book David Crystal asks all the right questions about the language that Shakespeare used and the ways in which he used it. Here is a linguist who knows not only how words work but how they work in the theatre. Anyone who cares for Shakespeare will be informed and entertained by this intriguing and wide-ranging study.' Stanley Wells

'… a fascinating and very readable book … one that could be recommended to the Shakespeare novice.' Stratford-upon-Avon Observer

'… he explores Shakespeare's linguistic art his grammar, his poetic brain and the ways in which he manipulated ordinary words, his building blocks, into the breathtaking poetry we have today.' Stratford-upon-Avon Herald

'An accessible book examining the 'nuts and bolts' of Shakespeare's language thus seems timely, and David Crystal … is just the man to write it.' Times Higher Education

'Crystal's new book is a summation of his work on Shakespeare over many years, essentially a user-friendly book about language. An invaluable resource particularly for work in both language and literature at A Level.' Keith Davidson, Committee for Language in Education

Book Description

For decades, people have been studying Shakespeare's life and times, and in recent years there has been a renewed surge of interest into aspects of his language. David Crystal provides a lively and original introduction, creating a greater appreciation of Shakespeare's vast linguistic creativity.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
By Sphex
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone who has heard David Crystal lecture in person or speak on the radio will recognize his infectious blend of enthusiasm and scholarship within a few pages of beginning this splendid book. Even as he gently shatters the myths we have probably all flirted with in some measure - that Shakespeare had the largest vocabulary of anyone who has ever lived, that he created half the words in English, that he has the most distinctive style of any author - you can't help but enjoy the lesson. Iconoclastic erudition is his forte.

Of course, we native English speakers are lucky in that Shakespeare's language is our language, with far fewer differences than you might think - although, like most people, I've sat through productions of his plays that might as well have been in a foreign language. While this kind of experience can put people off for life, it only takes one or two actors breathing meaning into the words right there in front of you to get you hooked. David Crystal never forgets that we are dealing with dramatic poetry, and his discussion of the pentameter is an object lesson in how to avoid getting bogged down in theory. As a piece of jargon it should be no scarier to children than "pentathlon". But whereas with pentathlon "we have no difficulty seeing the bridge between the term and what happens in the real world", the trouble with books on the pentameter is that "the real world is often not there at all." This is a deficit Crystal puts right by showing how the pentameter copes with a huge range of the spoken word, "incorporating the varied rhythms of natural speech while maintaining the required poetic discipline.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to be Shakespeared rightly... 17 July 2009
Format:Paperback
If you want to be Shakespeared rightly and get to know in detail all the fascinating nuts and bolts (David Crystal's phrasing) of his delicious tongue told by the number 1 Shakespearean scholar, the book is not to be left unread, well...undevoured!!! As Sphex notes in his review, Professor's enthusiasm is infectious, and inviting in!
A fascinating admixture of most meticulous, accurate and informative research and a friendly, crisp, and entertainingly beautiful manner of delivery, Professor Crystal leaves nothing to be desired!
The book is a number one reference for anyone interested in Shakespeare, from Bardoholics to Englisholics.
I strongly recommend this must-read book, well... "Shakespeare's Words" too, and..."The Shakespeare Miscellany", and...well, all by Professor David Crystal!!!
By the way, did you know why Shakespeare's name is spelled the way it is spelled???
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A feast of language 9 Dec 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Don't let the cartoon cover fool you into thinking this is another catchpenny "Shakespeare's Language for Dummies". It's an elegant, compelling survey of everything you need to get more out of watching and reading Shakespeare.
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Format:Paperback
Having studied linguistics, I'm sensitive to the way language works; the way words go together to arrive at a result. Any fan of Shakespeare knows that the result is stunning, and it's worth looking into how these words work together to create such masterpieces. David Crystal, a well-known British popularizer of language and linguistics, looks at the variegated elements of Shakespeare's words, from spelling and punctuation, to pronunciation and meter, from Shakespeare's coinages (not as many as we think), to his influences. You don't need to know anything about linguistics to understand this book; Crystal explains all the technical terms and concepts briefly and sufficiently, but if you do know about language, the book may interest you more. You won't find any criticism of the plays, or the Bard's style, in this book, but you will end up with a better appreciation of the many variables that fit together to make a Shakespeare play.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Hodgepodge 2 Mar 2009
By Seoigheach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a Shakespeare fan and an admirer of David Crystal (try his fascinating survey on the English language, for example), I had high hopes for this book. I was looking for a combination of Mr. Crystal's scholarly and linguistic abilities with a close analysis of the language of the Bard, and while he delivers in that respect, the overall effect is inconclusive and unsatisfying.

The book is occupied with patterns of changing usage, typesetters' conventions, grammar in flux, etc., and its point seems to be that everything was in such a state of change that the variability you find in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and the like doesn't necessarily meaning anything. Fair enough, but I think those points could have been made in an essay.

On the other hand, Mr. Crystal does lead the reader through a careful, scholarly consideration of each of the topics, imparting a sense of what close textual analysis involves, and does give an excellent introduction to the difficulties in deciding upon an "authoritative" text (impossible), as well as the lack of significance of that problem.

If you really like Shakespeare and Crystal, check this out, but don't have great expectations.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun book, gives insights into the way Shakespeare's language works 1 Dec 2008
By Kirk McElhearn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having studied linguistics, I'm sensitive to the way language works; the way words go together to arrive at a result. Any fan of Shakespeare knows that the result is stunning, and it's worth looking into how these words work together to create such masterpieces. David Crystal, a well-known British popularizer of language and linguistics, looks at the variegated elements of Shakespeare's words, from spelling and punctuation, to pronunciation and meter, from Shakespeare's coinages (not as many as we think), to his influences. You don't need to know anything about linguistics to understand this book; Crystal explains all the technical terms and concepts briefly and sufficiently, but if you do know about language, the book may interest you more. You won't find any criticism of the plays, or the Bard's style, in this book, but you will end up with a better appreciation of the many variables that fit together to make a Shakespeare play.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eatin in one gulp 23 April 2012
By realizm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Mr Crystal could not go wrong with a book like this; a book he was born to write. I read the entire 200 and some pages in one gulp in the aisle of a book store. Step by step, Mr Crystal will bring to vivid life aspects of Shakspeare you never dreamed were there.... Sorry Mr Crystal, but there's no reason to buy it now, but thanks for making it so interesting!
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