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Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist's Guide to Britain [Kindle Edition]

David Crystal , Hilary Crystal
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Wordsmiths and Warriors explores the heritage of English through the places in Britain that shaped it. It unites the warriors, whose invasions transformed the language, with the poets, scholars, reformers, and others who helped create its character.

The book relates a real journey. David and Hilary Crystal drove thousands of miles to produce this fascinating combination of English-language history and travelogue, from locations in south-east Kent to the Scottish lowlands, and from south-west Wales to the East Anglian coast. David provides the descriptions and linguistic associations, Hilary the full-colour photographs. They include a guide for anyone wanting to follow in their footsteps but arrange the book to reflect the chronology of the
language. This starts with the Anglo-Saxon arrivals in Kent and in the places that show the earliest evidence of English. It ends in London with the latest apps for grammar. In between are intimate encounters with the places associated with such writers as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Wordsworth; the
biblical Wycliffe and Tyndale; the dictionary compilers Cawdrey, Johnson, and Murray; dialect writers, elocutionists, and grammarians, and a host of other personalities.

Among the book's many joys are the diverse places that allow warriors such as Byrhtnoth and King Alfred to share pages with wordsmiths like Robert Burns and Tim Bobbin, and the unexpected discoveries that enliven every stage of the authors' epic journey.

Product Description


[A] labour of love, enthusiasm and mild eccentricity it's like a long and chatty guide written by a close friend, only in this case the friend happens to be one of the world's foremost authorities on language. (Vulpes Libris)

Part history, part travel guide, illustrated with high-quality colour photographs of places associated with the development of the language and those writers who used it to greatest effect, it is an origianl and ambitious project wonderfully realised. (Evergreen)

Language is a living thing, and Crystal is a lively, literate guide to the landmarks that signpost its long history. (Iain Finlayson, The Times)

A splendiferous, beautiful, colourful book that every language, history, archaeology and literature lover should have on their coffee tables and tucked under their arms when they get on a train to jaunt across the country. (Huffington Post)

Linguist David Crystal and his wife, Hilary, a speech therapist, cover a lot of ground, literally and figuratively, in this ambitious journey through the evolution of the English language. (Publishers Weekly)

No person who loves language and visiting places should be without this book - I can't praise it highly enough! (Michele Clarke, Editing Matters, Society for Editors and Proofreaders)

An absorbing read, delivered in Crystal's usual clear and enthusiastic style. (The Good Book Guide)

an original and ambitious project wonderfully realised (The Evergreen Magazine)

an important and original book on the history of the English language. (Norwich Evening News)

An eloquent, learned guide offering inspiration for linguists and travellers alike. (Sophie Mcgrath, Lonely Planet Traveller)

If you're currently looking for a Christmas present for someone with an interest in English and its history, you might want to consider this gorgeous book (Language Hat)

About the Author

David Crystal is known throughout the world as a writer, editor, lecturer and broadcaster on language. He has published extensively on the history and development of English, including The Stories of English (2004), Evolving English (2010), Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language (2010), The Story of English in 100 Words (2011), and Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling (2012).

Hilary Crystal trained as a speech therapist, worked for a while in clinical linguistic research, then became a sub-editor for the various volumes in the Cambridge and Penguin families of encyclopedias. She has designed several books, notably the anthologies of the poetry of John Bradburne edited by David.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 30533 KB
  • Print Length: 427 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (27 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00E8C225W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #139,753 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well organised, erudite and readable 16 Nov. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
David Crystal is a most prolific writer. As such one gets the impression that he did not need to do a huge amount of research for this book. His structure is chronological rather than geographical order which works fine if you can keep your head from spinning. Each little chapter starts with a bit of a chat about his experience of getting there and what he found when he got there. This can be humorous and somewhat interesting and then he gets on to the history bit and how the history of that place affected the development of English. That is where it all comes alive.

There are lots of wonderful facts and factoids to delight the linguistically enamoured and those who love history's quirks.

There are great quotes from the works he is on about and good photos too. He leaves you wanting more and tells you where to find it in very sensible references and directions. I did not get the impression he stayed long in these places. Sounded like about half an hour on Holy Island with the seals' song giving him the willies and him fretting about missing the tide. I am saying "he" but of course Hilary, his wife is co author and fellow traveller.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's only words... 10 Mar. 2015
By Quiverbow TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
David and Hilary Crystal certainly know their subject. Both have written extensively and been involved in the history of English for many years. Their current book is something of a departure from those that went before. Whilst it mentions the language of Old English and Middle English and how some of it evolved into what we know today, this not only delves into the people who were behind the movement of bringing language to the masses, but also their heritage.

Starting in Kent in 449 at Pegwell Bay (where there's a fine reconstruction of a Viking Longship), it's followed by Caistor in Norfolk and the discovery of the first known English word, Raihan, carved on an ankle bone (though how anyone managed to extrapolate that from the runes isn't explained). Next up is a place called Undley Common in Suffolk and the first recorded sentence. And so on until the final chapter on University College London and its study on grammar.

Now, it might sound like a bit of a travelogue because that's what it is. It's an archaeology book that puts the emphasis on places to visit and things to see that just happen to involve words. In fact, it's just as interesting for those who have no curiosity in English as a language, as many of the buildings and artefacts mentioned will be intriguing to followers of English history. Battle Abbey, Cerne Abbey, Saint Margaret's Tower, Canterbury, The George in Southwark will all appeal to a wider audience than any book on language would, though if it encourages those readers to investigate the linguistics then it's more than done its job.

There's even helpful, in-depth directions at the end of each chapter.

One point of interest the authors seem to have missed out on is in Chapter 20.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another enjoyable David Crystal book. 24 Oct. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love David Crystal's enthusiasm & expertise & this book gave me access to both. I really enjoyed the idea of husband & wife touring Britain, searching for places of English Language significance & their mutual love of the subject shines through. Hilary Crystal's pictures add an extra dimension to the book & there are some great photographs of some pretty nerdy places! Where else would you see the great David Crystal standing next to Doctor Who's Tardis (p.128) or peering into George Bernard Shaw's writing shed (p.372)? As usual, David Crystal's expansive knowledge is handled with a light & humorous touch. Long may his reign of popularized English Language publications continue!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable linguistic tour in Britain! 24 Nov. 2013
By Posh
I studied linguistics at Edinburgh and have read and enjoyed most of David Crystal's books. This book takes you on a linguistic tour in Britain - all chapters are short and snappy (not more than 10 pages)talking about a place with linguistic significance, starting with a symbolic photo and ending with a section "Getting there" and links to relevant websites. If you are really interested in some of the sites, you can always research further online or even pay a visit (make sure you buy the English Heritage/Historic Scotland membership!). I agree with another reviewer that some photos seem a bit too dark, but David has explained in the intro that all photos were taken by his wife Hilary (an enthusiastic amateur) and weather-wise it was not the best of the year for taking photos in the parts of the UK they travelled. Highly recommended to everyone who is interested in the linguistic development of the English language - you don't have to be a linguist or a linguistic student to enjoy this book!
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By Nicholas J. R. Dougan TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What a fantastic idea for a book –a history of the English language, presented as a travelogue, a guide to the places associated with significant developments in the language, around England, Scotland and Wales. There are 57 chapters, and a few more locations (as some developments are associated with more than one location), the first being just a few miles to my east, at Pegwell bay on the Kent coast, where, according to Bede, the first Anglo-Saxons arrived in 449 A.D. The last is just a few miles to the north, at the Bloomsbury base of the Department of English of University College London is based. Here David Crystal took part in the department’s survey of English usage, which he explains was the most significant analysis of English grammar and usage in the twentieth century.

I have found this a book to dip into rather than to read cover to cover – ideal for reading a chapter before going to bed, or, dare I suggest, for the smallest room. I’ve covered the two events above, as well as such developments as (drawn there by my Scots roots) the Chambers brothers and the first modern encyclopaedia (Edinburgh and Peebles), Tim Bobbin, the pioneer of writing in dialect (Rochdale) and Fowler (he of the dictionary of Modern English Usage) (Hinton St George, Somerset). All quite fascinating, and it’ll bear much re-reading. I’m looking forward to finding out more about the development of dictionaries, the thesaurus, bible translations, Robbie Burns and Scots English, Dylan Thomas and Welsh English, and of course Shakespeare – one of David Crystal’s particular area of expertise is in the pronunciation of Shakespearean English.

I don’t think I’ll set out to do the tour – unlike the authors, whose own photographs illustrate the book – but I do think I’ll try to take some of these locations in when the opportunity arises. If you like the English language, you’ll love this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, as usual!
Last year I finished my English language degree, and I still have a great interest in the subject, so was very excited when David Crystal announced another book. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Jennifer
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, lavishly illustrated and totally fascinating.
I had not come across any of David Crystal's books before, but this one caught my eye due to the fascinating idea of touring England to explore our rich and fascinating heritage,... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Chocolate Drop
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Very happy with my purchase!
Published 5 months ago by mrs g. a. flower
5.0 out of 5 stars Great gift
Got this as a Christmas gift for a relative - he loved it and has enjoyed dipping in and out of it.
Published 11 months ago by Gill in Gloucs
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected
This is an interesting read but, for me, lacks David Crystal's usual dry sense of humour. I certainly intend to visit some of the places he has written about. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Peggy
3.0 out of 5 stars A Curate's Egg
I was a bit disappointed with this; I'd read other works by David Crystal and found them fascinating, and as I worked through this volume I kept feeling that with his background... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Don Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars Wordsmiths and warriors.
This makes the English language more interesting once you understand where words originated. Haven't read it all yet but it looks promising.
Published 13 months ago by wrinklie
4.0 out of 5 stars A good dipper
This is more of a guide book than anything else.It isn't a book you read from cover to cover. You need to dip into it for some interesting places to visit.
Published 13 months ago by Lyn
5.0 out of 5 stars original, entertaining and enlightening
I first read a David Crystal book more than forty years ago, when I was considering applying to study linguistics at university. Read more
Published 14 months ago by tangerina
5.0 out of 5 stars be informed
Instead of just visiting a place of historic interest have an immediate goal. The linguistic connections are fascinating. Take the book with you on hols!
Published 14 months ago by Dominic Hyland
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