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)2011 AudioGO
"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)
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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.
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