Learn more Download now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop now Learn more

Customer Review

on September 11, 2011
Aimed squarely at pre-teen readers, much-respected linguist David Crystal takes us on a breezy overview of language. He follows an ambitious path, starting with baby talk and progressing through phonetics, grammar, written language, conversation, bilingualism, language change, computer-related language and on, and on to linguistics itself.

The broad scope is not without problems though, with 40 short chapters and 250 pages, the book is not exactly 'little' and it would take a dedicated and smart kid to complete it. Said smart kid might therefore become quickly irritated by the 'avuncular' (i.e. vaguely patronising) style in which no prior understanding - at all - is assumed. Terms line 'jargon', 'jam', 'first name' etc are explained in painstaking detail. The result is it is all a bit superficial and often simplistic. As an example, isn't it misleading, to say the least, to suggest linguists distinguish dialect from language by a hackneyed "when people speak different languages they don't understand each other" (p85). Even my own 10-year-old, who speaks the mostly mutually-intelligible languages Catalan, Spanish and Mallorquin would challange that. The underlying 'politics' of language/dialect definilition is actually much more interesting than this sort of determinism, and easily understandable even by pre-teens.

There is no excuse either for the annoying sloppiness that occasionally creeps in; the Celtic language of Scotland, for example, is not 'Gallic' (p126) and there is no such person nowadays as 'the Queen of England' (p132). Did the great David Crystal really make such schoolboy mistakes?
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse| Permalink
What's this?

What are product links?

In the text of your review, you can link directly to any product offered on Amazon.com. To insert a product link, follow these steps:
1. Find the product you want to reference on Amazon.com
2. Copy the web address of the product
3. Click Insert product link
4. Paste the web address in the box
5. Click Select
6. Selecting the item displayed will insert text that looks like this: [[ASIN:014312854XHamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)]]
7. When your review is displayed on Amazon.com, this text will be transformed into a hyperlink, like so:Hamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)

You are limited to 10 product links in your review, and your link text may not be longer than 256 characters.

Product Details

4.4 out of 5 stars