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The Story of English in 100 Words Audiobook

The Story of English in 100 Words

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Publisher's Summary

Winner: Audiofile Magazine Earphones Award

In this unique new history of the world's most ubiquitous language, linguistics expert David Crystal draws on words that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences, and events that have helped to shape our vernacular since the first definitively English word was written down in the fifth century ('roe', in case you are wondering).

Featuring Latinate and Celtic words, weasel words and nonce-words, ancient words ('loaf') to cutting edge ('twittersphere') and spanning the indispensable words that shape our tongue ('and', 'what') to the more fanciful ('fopdoodle'), Crystal takes us along the winding byways of language via the rude, the obscure and the downright surprising.

©2011 David Crystal (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Here's a delight you shouldn't miss. True, not everyone has an abiding interest in linguistics, but David Crystal's method of focusing on single and representative words produces fascinating results, and surprising breadth. Words like 'able,' 'and,' 'ain't,' 'alphabet,' and 'dude' have their individual history, illustrate some historic feature of language, and mark the development of English from long ago to the present day. As narrator, Crystal sounds like he learned his English in the 1700s, and his distinctly British pronunciation of words like 'controversy' stands out in a treatise on language and, at the same time, highlights his underlying themes--that language is arbitrary, whimsical, oftentimes nonsensical, and always changing. Ideal for a commute or a daily round, Crystal's 100 brisk chapters are uniquely suited for audiobook consumption, rich in pith and humor, and a total treat however consumed." (Audiofile Magazine)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (93 )
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4.3 (59 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Margaret London, United Kingdom 18/10/2011
    Margaret London, United Kingdom 18/10/2011 Member Since 2011
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    "Sparkling"

    This is a book written and read by a man with an obvious and very endearing love for his subject. Unlike sime authors' readings of their own books, this is a real delight. Giggling, nay, laughing out loud on the Tube, I have now renewed my acquaintance with some words and been neatly introduced to others. I loved this and would highly recommend it, finding not only, as the author says, that I can see the trees but the woods as well. I think he has achieved his object.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth United Kingdom 30/06/2013
    Elizabeth United Kingdom 30/06/2013 Member Since 2013

    I listen to audiobooks while I weave on my loom, of all things! I have pretty broad literary tastes.

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    "Surprisingly fun!"
    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed this book, which surprised me. I often get bored quite quickly with non-fiction, finding it harder to stick with than fiction. This book doesn't allow the material to get dry though. It is the sort of book you can dip in and out of because the chapters are quite short and focus on one word at a time. David Crystal's narrative is almost conversational in tone, he just wants to tell you some interesting and fun things about each word, and then moves on. He throws in a few rude words, and a few modern hybrid words, like chillax, to show some of the interesting and strange things that words can do, but my favourite was bone-house. This book probably has nothing new to tell linguists, but is still told in such an enjoyable way that perhaps even those who have nothing to learn from this book could still find enjoyment from hearing David Crystal talk about them.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Iain Telford, United Kingdom 13/04/2013
    Iain Telford, United Kingdom 13/04/2013
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    "Expert English"

    Professor David Crystal is, without doubt, the English language expert. This tour of 100 English words is at times illuminating, humorous and extraordinarily well informed. He takes the listener through a semi-chronological tour of words to illustrate various linguistic points of interest. Where this audiobook excels is in the fact that it is in the authors own voice, helping to bridge the awkward 'how is this word pronounced' gap experienced in written texts. An excellent and fun book and highly recommended.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr David Newton 25/12/2012 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting - most of the time"

    David Crystal is without doubt THE expert in the English language and his academic work in the field provides the main textbooks for many linguistic courses.

    His academic confidence means that he has the ability to read his own work well and in an interested manner. His delight in the language means that he is open to words entering the language from many places and celebrates those which arise form slang or text with the same delight, or perhaps even more pleasure, as those which came from Latin or Germanic sources. He even seems to take pleasure in the variety of common spellings, as if taking a gentle swipe at the purists who claim theirs is the 'correct' use.

    The only hesitation I have is that the book is a list. He takes words in chronological order of their entry into the language and I am sure that works well in the written form. But in audio there is a problem for me. I find that my attention can drift and if that happens when he is moving from one word to another I can get a little lost.

    Although I am an enthusiastic audio listener this is perhaps better on the eye than the ear.



    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zen Kite 05/03/2015
    Zen Kite 05/03/2015 Member Since 2014
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    "The Story of English"

    An excellent book, full of warmth, wit and erudition. David Crystal is a master of his subject and a great narrator.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Radioactive tea Warwickshire, UK 09/02/2015
    Radioactive tea Warwickshire, UK 09/02/2015 Member Since 2016
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    "David Crystal is the best"

    A brilliant book, wonderfully executed. I love his authoritative, but never patronising, tone. it made me smile every time I got into the car and excitedly told friends and family some of the words I learned about.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Wendy Oxford, United Kingdom 07/04/2013
    Wendy Oxford, United Kingdom 07/04/2013 Member Since 2007
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    "Entertaining and informative Etymological jaunt"

    I am fascinated by the history of English, but with so many great books out there I approached this one cautiously. It was a very pleasant surprise. Well narrated by the author (always a plus) it is an entertaining ramble through the language broken into manageable bite-sized chunks based on individual words. I enjoyed it a lot.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Chistopher Franck 26/03/2012 Member Since 2008
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    "Brilliant!"

    For me as exciting as Tolstoi, Le Carré and Chandler.
    Listen to this - and learn.
    Add to it "Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pyjamas" (Judy Parkinson) and you are in for a lot of free dinners.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Carnegie UK 12/08/2016
    Mary Carnegie UK 12/08/2016 Member Since 2012

    redcarnegie

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    "Entertaining, surprising, never pedantic."

    David Crystal knows LOTS about language but never makes a meal of his erudition. He's never dogmatic, prescriptive or snooty about words and how they're used.
    Human language is so amazing, infinite, inventive, playful, evolutionary and revolutionary - one of the most wonderful things on Earth - and David Crystal reminds us of some of its fun in this collection of words, old and new.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catwoman 07/05/2012
    Catwoman 07/05/2012 Listener Since 2007
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    "Interesting in parts"

    This probably makes a much better read. It was interesting for short bursts but not enough to listen to for long and I found the narrator somewhat irritating.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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