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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language Paperback – February 13, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0521559676 ISBN-10: 0521559677 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (February 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521559677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521559676
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #613,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The most diverse, enjoyable, and thought-provoking encyclopedia on language. Though not an alphabetical encyclopedia, the coverage of the 65 thematic chapters is encyclopedic--ideal for anyone interested in words, speech, writing, and thought, and certain to be a continual point of reference for any writer for years to come. Very Highly Recommended. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This is a collection of concise and readable essays on the many subfields of linguistics, ranging from the invention of the alphabet to the Kurzweil Reading Machine and covering both theoretical and applied approaches to the subject. Numerous illustrations and charts make the text more vivid, and a glossary, a table of the world's languages, and several indexes make it eminently usable. Respected British linguist Crystal has done an admirable job of condensing information from many specialized fields into a form that will be intelligible to lay readers as well as linguists. Useful for public as well as academic libraries. Catherine V. von Schon, SUNY at Stony Brook Lib.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. He has written or edited over 100 books and published numerous articles for scholarly, professional, and general readerships, in fields ranging from forensic linguistics and ELT to the liturgy and Shakespeare. His many books include Words, Words, Words (OUP 2006) and The Fight for English (OUP 2006).

Customer Reviews

Although a scholarly book, it's well written and Crystal never gets overly pedantic or dry.
Magellan
While many of Crystal's topics have their technical aspects, the author keeps his tone conversational and his information accessible to the lay reader.
F. Hamilton
David Crystal's Encylcopedia of Language is an excellent and readable book for lay-people like myself.
dame ethel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By F. Hamilton on December 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
_The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language_, Second Edition, by David Crystal is a linguaphile's delight. It provides a wealth of information to engage the mind indefinitely.
Instead of being organized alphabetically, as most encyclopedias are, _The Encyclopedia of Language_ is divided into eleven parts that comprise sixty-five thematic sections. Each section includes a comprehensive discussion of the theme, enhanced by sidebars and colorful visuals. Sections range in length from two to twenty pages, making the chunks of information small enough to be palatable yet large enough to be satisfying.
Topics addressed include language and thought, the structure of language, the anatomy and physiology of speech, written language, language acquisition, languages of the world, language disabilities, and language change. Obviously, this is only a sample. In addition, the book has eight appendices, including an extensive glossary and a table giving information about nearly 1,000 of the world's languages.

While many of Crystal's topics have their technical aspects, the author keeps his tone conversational and his information accessible to the lay reader. In this way he celebrates the existence of human language and deepens our appreciation of it.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey L. Guthery on May 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have always found linguistics to be a fascinating subject, but my encounters with the majority of textbooks on this subject have made for rather dry reading. Bearing this is mind, I initially approached this book with low expectations. However, once I opened the cover I could not put it down again. David Crystal has a quite a talent for presenting various topics surrounding language in a way that is both extremely interesting and easy to understand. The eleven chapters address in general terms language structure, geographic and social factors relating to language, physiological and neurological aspects of speech and language acquisition, languages of the world, written language, and a great deal of more information covering a variety of language-related topics, to include sign language, body language, and animal communication. No one is going to become an expert on linguistics by merely reading this book, but it is a superb general reference and introduction to language and linguistics.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a linguaphile and language lover's delight, to read or just to browse like a coffee table book. It covers just about every major topic in the study of language you can think of, from traditional classical and comparative philology and linguistics to modern developmental and neurological studies of language.

The book is comprised of 11 major sections and 65 smaller sections, with 8 appendices devoted to various topics, and there is an extensive glossary of linguistic terms as well as a table giving essential information about almost 1000 of the world's languages. Although a scholarly book, it's well written and Crystal never gets overly pedantic or dry. This is no doubt one of the most comprehensive and detailed compendia of information for the general reader about the subject of language ever written.

After reading this, you'll be more than ready to tackle a formal or more technical introductory text in linguistics, if you want to continue your studies. If you do, I highly recommend David Lyons's classic, Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics, now out of print but worth getting if you can find a used copy. If you can't find that there are several other recent texts that are quite good. But if you decide to stick with this book, you'll still have learned a lot. Whichever way you decide, good luck and happy reading.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Loren D. Morrison on February 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
According to the author, this book operates on two levels. First it addresses the kind of interest in language history and behaviour that we encounter daily (for instance: a young child's attempts to talk), and secondly, it attempts to make sense out of what we observe. To address these concerns, the book consists of 11 main categories having topics such as "Popular Ideas About Language," "The Medium of Language: Writing and Reading," and ""The Languages Of The World."
These 11 categories are further broken down into 65 subsections on such subjects as "Language and Thought," "Investigating Children's Language," and "Language And The Brain."
One of the beauties of this book is that it practices what it preaches. In the section on Plain English, it emphasizes simplicity as the key to readability and it is written in just such a simple, readable manner. In this regard, Crystal quotes the recommendations of the "Plain English Advocates" as follows:
"Prefer the shorter word to the longer one. Use simple . . . . rather than fancy ones."
"Write short sentences with an average of no more than 20 words."
"Write short paragraphs with an average of about 75 words."
And very importantly, I think, "Write with your ear. . . . . Do not write anything you could not comfortably say."
There is much more like this. Along these same lines he quotes George Orwell's six rules of what to do when instinct fails. A couple of these rules also merit mention.
"Never use a long word when a short word will do." and "If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out." And, again, more along these lines.
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