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Customer Review

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars and Crystal begat tedium......., 3 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language (Hardcover)
Anybody familiar with Professor Crystal's impressive literary output so far - particularly 'The Stories of English' - may, like me, be surprised and wholly disappointed by this offering. Having struggled to finish this volume as an 'end to end' read, one can only recommend it as a coffee-table book designed to occupy idle moments of the day.

My criticism? The sheer repetition that lies herein. Each paragraph is formulaic to the point of tedium: firstly, an explanation of the original context of a particular biblical expression, secondly, its distortion over time and transmission into common usage, and finally how the expression has been punned on by various journalists, authors and writers of late. Two or three chapters of this stuff is revealing and light-hearted enough, admittedly, but after forty-two chapters one is left distinctly underwhelmed by the sheer weight of superficial trivia presented. The examples of how biblical phrases have been manipulated to give modern-day comic affect are particularly lame. Is anybody really interested in a never-ending catalogue of some of tabloid journalism's most cringe-worthy biblical puns? Certainly not this reader.

Sadly one gains the feeling that Crystal was bullied into writing this book by his editors at Oxford University Press, revealed by his somewhat pedestrian research technique. This seems to have been based largely on browsing the KJB for familiar English idioms and biblical phrases still in common currency and then simply entering these into Google. This is surely unworthy of a writer so academically rigorous and successful at revealing the fascinating history and nuances of the English language in his other works.
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