From Publishers Weekly
In his account of a theatrical and linguistic experiment, Crystal, author of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, makes the story of a Globe Theatre production of Romeo and Juliet using Early Modern English both breezy and academically enthralling. For the 2004 production, the first in fifty years to employ language and pronunciation from Shakespeare's era, Crystal prepared the play's text and taught the cast how to speak as Shakespeare's original players are thought to have spoken. Crystal explains how he used Elizabethan spellings and clues within the script (line meter, rhyming schemes and sound patterns) to determine how words sounded in the sixteenth century, a question that vexed him throughout the play's production. Despite his dazzling linguistics accomplishments, Crystal writes in a down-to-earth manner, discussing his field and the production with a dry wit and true enthusiasm. American readers may have problems following the discussion of British regional accents, and, as with all theater books, the best writing cannot make up for the reader's inability to see (and, particularly in this case, hear) the production. However, as a brief study of an intriguing experiment, this title will be as welcome to the theatrical and linguistic worlds as Crystal's earlier works.
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"...bedazzles you with an eye-popping presentation of the cluck-clucking of the mother tongue. If you like fireworks with your information, this is a worthwhile language book." --William Safire, The New York Times Magazine, on the first edition of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (1995)
"...a monstrous amount of information on a fascinating topic arranged in a clear, concise, and, above all, entertaining manner...can only lead to uncontrollable reading binges lasting hours or perhaps days." --Quill & Quire on ^The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language
"This is a fascinating and useful book....a fine introduction for a wide variety of potential users." --Choice on English as a Global Languge (Cambridge, 2003)
"...offers compact, profound, and easily accessible insights into the problem of linguistic extinction." --Choice on Language Death (Cambridge, 2000)