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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 10 February 2003
This is a fascinating review of how the English Language got to its present position of world dominance. David Crystal is not, contrary to Daniel's review, a linguistic imperialist. He lives in Wales, speaks Welsh, and champions minority languages. But he also understands that an interconnected world needs a global lingua franca, which will be a second language for the great majority.
From Daniel's review, you might get the impression that Crystal advocates fertilizer bags having instructions only in English. In fact, Crystal is quoting the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, who said that farmers in her country should learn English as a second language, since international companies were never going to print instructions on fertilizer bags in Sinhalese. She was simply being realistic.
Crystal recognises that the dominance of English today is the result of chance, the language repeatedly being in the right place at the right time. If English had not become the common second language, another language would have done so. Crystal gives us the reasons for English's rise, the history, the effects on other languages and some predictions of where its going. It's quite a short book, and I would have preferred more detailed discussion in places. But it's certainly worthwhile reading.
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on 18 August 2009
This is an extremely interesting, accurate and comprehensive review of the status of English in the world. Being the second edition, all the data are revised and information is updated. David Crystal presents a neat review of English in all the spheres of life - cinema, broadcasting, politics and elsewhere, providing with dates of "first recorded usages" and later development of the language in a certain field. There is a section of New Englishes, where illustrative points from emerging varieties are presented in reference to vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and discourse. David Crystal also makes invaluable speculations about the emerging syllable-timed nature of New Englishes and presents the conflict over the officiality of English in the USA. There is an absolute balance of presentation of the positive and negative sides of English on the global scale, its side effects and benefits. Alongside his neutral, from-the-outside observations, Professor quotes other authors' opinions about the situation, both favourable and pejorative.
On the whole, the book is very comprehensive, detailed, learned and extremely interesting, claiming the expert hand that wrote it.
I advise everybody to read this must-run book, also to enjoy the sistering "Language Death", which I am going to do soon.
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on 27 November 2000
Short and to the point, this provides an overveiw of how English came to be a global language, the different status it has worldwide and the issues it raises. It's a slim volume and it won't take long to read but it's an interesting subject and makes you realise how lucky you are if English is your first language. I read right after doing a Teaching English as a Forign Language course so it was an illuminating look at where in the world I could go.
However it sometimes lacks detail and leaves you wanting more, but don't let that put you off - it's an interesting introduction to a subject I intend to learn more about.
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on 17 February 2016
Arrived in good condition.
I originally picked it up for my Extended Project research, but it is interesting enough to read it anyway - even when I decided to drop the EPQ.
Crystal is practically worshiped by my college's English Language department, and I can certainly see why.
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on 20 May 2015
David Crystal never dissapoints a linguist. Everything is explained so that everybody can access those materials but at the same time he is very meticulous and gives good points and explanations. I use it for university and it is great.
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on 14 November 2001
Crystal's book is the exact counterpart to Phillipson's "Linguistic Imperialism". While the former has been called an "alarmist" (because of his view that English has been used for imperialistic purposes) the latter apparently sees no problem what so ever (and has thus been called "triumphalist"). Crystal seems to suggest that all linguistic cross-cultural problems could be solved if everyone would learn English from an early age onwards. He apparently sees nothing wrong if Asian farmers cannot read the instructions on fertilizer bags because they are in English. Rather suspiciously, Crystal disregards Phillipson completely in this. While there are some good arguments against Phillipson, Crystal refuses to enter the debate. More generally, it seems to me that he refuses to deal with the more unpleasant facts of the global spread of English. Better to continue writing about the happy family of English speakers! The book is thus rather naive in its evaluation of the role, status and attitudes connected with the English language.For those who would like to read a really damning review I can recommend Phillipson's "Voice in Global English: unheard Chords in Crystal loud and clear." which appeared in Applied Linguistics 20/2:265-276.
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on 12 February 2011
perfect for my studies. I enjoy David Crystal books, they are much easier to read that some other authors on this subject.
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on 15 July 2014
Interesting and a good overall view of the power of English in the language scenario nowadays
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on 2 February 2013
David Chrystal makes studying English and Linguistics fun and fascinating. Very interesting and a good opener for more of his.
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on 3 November 2015
The book seems good to describe English as a global language. It provides reader with how a language can be a global , and why English is so.
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