- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (1 April 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007235577
- ISBN-13: 978-0007235575
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 846,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
By Hook Or By Crook: A Journey in Search of English Paperback – 1 Apr 2008
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‘Every page of Crystal’s book contains some linguistic curiosity or flight of fancy. He should go walkie-talkie more often. Another 100 books of this kind would not be too many.’ Financial Times
‘[An] excellent, discursive new book [by] one of England's greatest living language commentators…Crystal's accessible and lively style belies his academic rigour.’ The New Statesman
'[Crystal] is more than just the Dr Johnson of our age, a linguistic expert who never takes a day off from considering language in all its aspects, and even hears sheep bleat in a Welsh accent.' The Sunday Herald
'”By Hook or By Crook” is autobiographical-whimsical-quizzical-oddsandendsical.' Times Higher Education Supplement
'The book reads like a donnish Bill Bryson, a Bryson possessed with a maniacal passion for the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language… This is stream of consciousness linguistics, a pied-piper-led dance down the byways of language…a compelling guide.' Independent
'splendidly discursive…This is a man so in love with words that he will happily hold up fellow motorists, and miss crucial turnings.' Independent on Sunday
About the Author
David Crystal has published over 90 books on the subject of the English language, including two encyclopaedias, 'The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language' and The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language'. His book, 'The Stories of English' (2004) was a bestseller for Penguin. He has lectured in linguistics all his life, first at Bangor, then at Reading and is now Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales. He has also been a consultant, contributor or presenter on many radio and TV series (including 'The Story of English').
Top Customer Reviews
Although I enjoyed reading this book, it is difficult to see what happened to the Sebald inspiration claimed by the author. Sebald writes meditative, reflective books which lead the reader into contemplating the big issues of life and death - the actual locations and histories he recounts being almost incidental to the inner state of mind aroused along the way. This book on the other hand is an energetic tour through linguistic highways and byways, with fact after fact piled on in an almost random fashion, making it difficult to see the whole picture. By Hook or By Crook is definitely an entertaining read, but as with so many books about the origins of the English (or any other) language, unless one has a formidable memory for random facts, little of it will remain when the final page has been read. While the derivation of "Lichfield" for example is undoubtedly of passing interest, a week after reading the book I can recall little of it, nor can I quite see why I needed to know in the first place.
I read this book on holiday and it was perfect for picking up and putting down again a few minutes later. It does not demand too much in the way of concentration and would make an excellent gift for anyone with an interest in words and their meanings.
Be warned: I suspect some readers outside of the UK, and without much knowledge of or a willingness to learn about the UK, could give it fewer stars.
This is the first of Crystal's books I've read - and I intend to purchase more.
Out of desperation I tried it on a relative who always finds something to grumble about when given a gift.
On this occasion he enjoyed the book immensely, telling me often afterward what a terrific read it was (although he did complain that there are not more books like it).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent mix of comedy, fact and knowledge but then again I am a fan of David Crystal.Published 13 months ago by D Hammond
An interesting book, full of more of Crystal's insights and expertise.
But I found it a touch too self-congratulary...but maybe that's just me.