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The Stories of English Hardcover – 27 May 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; 1st edition, 5th impression edition (27 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713997524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713997521
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 452,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'It should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in language' -- The Scotsman, June 19, 2004

'learned but lively' -- Financial Times Magazine, June 26, 2004

About the Author

David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and the editor of The Penguin Encyclopedia.

" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
David Crystal is quite probably the best authority there is on the English language past and present, and in "The Stories of English" he has visibly excelled himself. From "Beowulf" and the earliest documents in Old English right up to the specific features of text-messaging, and looking beyond to the twenty-first-century English-speaking world of his grandchildren, here is an impeccably researched history of the language.
The title gives an immediate clue to the originality of this book, throughout which Professor Crystal is at pains to show that, alongside "standard English", there are all the other varieties of the language which, in the name of a purism which he skilfully shows to be misplaced, have most often been either denigrated or ignored by other historical works of this kind.
Perhaps David Crystal's major achievement is that he succeeds in being scholarly without ever being pedantic. His attention to detailed research is impressive, and yet the reader never once gets bogged down in theoretical linguistics. The writer's approach is resolutely of a sociolinguistic nature, and he constantly draws attention to the links between language and society and the way in which the evolution of one is always conditioned by the evolution of the other. He is particularly good on the language of Shakespeare, and unsparing in his criticism of the "absolute rubbish" propagated on the subject of the bard by "enthusiastic linguistic amateurs".
But David Crystal's book really makes its major point in the way in which prescriptive norms are demonstrated to be arbitrary - however necessary they may also be. The book sets out an unanswerable counter-argument to all those who earnestly equate "good" English with good behaviour, and even with morality.
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Format: Hardcover
In this authoritative history of the English language, David Crystal tells two different stories: one is about the development of standard English, and the other is about all its fascinating variant forms (dialects, slangs, the sociolects of particular groups - e.g. Internet users and hobbits!). The value of this is that so-called non-standard forms of English aren't demonized, as they have been in many other histories of the language. Yet at the same time Crystal explains why there are virtues in a standard version of English. This is a well-written book, covering a huge amount of material in pleasingly manageable chunks, with some great asides and interludes (Father Ted, anybody?). It beats the competition hands down.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a review of the Kindle edition. I bought this because it was 'recommended reading' for an Open University module that I'm studying. The subject matter, English in all its wonderful varieties, is well-presented. By-and-large the book is an easy read, and I recommend it to anybody who has any interest in the English language. The 'but' is the 'panels' that crop up in each chapter. These are digressions to examine some aspect more closely. In the paper copy, these 'panels' are clearly marked in boxes. In the Kindle version, there is no such marking. You just get a panel number and heading, then the panel text. You have no indication where the panel finishes, so the sentence you're reading could be part of the panel or a continuation of the main text. This can affect the flow of your reading. (Well, it affected the flow of my reading, from time to time.)

Being severely short-sighted, I agree with vikki650 that the text size on the Kindle makes this book easy on the eyes. (The smallest text size is too large on my Kindle apps, if anything!) I wish I could give it 4.5 stars. The issue with the panels is a niggle, but not worth docking a full star.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very schollarly book - but it really doesn't suit the Kindle format. The text in the illustrations is all but unreadable, tables disjointed, and there's no easy access to the author's frequent footnotes.

The author also makes regular reference to page numbers which are not visible in this format.

Better buy the book!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's a while since I read this but I do remember finding it very absorbing and indeed revelatory, which surprised me a bit because the evolution of language is something I've been interested in and reading about for most of my long life. But that is really the central and only point of my review: the world would appear to be divided into those who find this kind of thing fantastically boring and anoraks like me who love it. So now you know.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"I have ever read Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue, a New York Best Seller. The Stories of English excels that at least in its more serious data and points. SE is more specific and scientific. As to the humorous tone, they match with each other. "
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
great read
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