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The Story of English in 100 Words [Kindle Edition]

David Crystal
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.





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).


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Product Details

  • File Size: 1697 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (October 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005FQ1GSO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #507,502 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
(12)
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun December 20, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have been thoroughly enjoying reading this book, one chapter at a time. I've learned so much and will be very sorry when I have finished it. My only criticism is of my purchase. I should have bought a printed copy, rather than the Kindle copy, of this book because I would like to loan it to so many people.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed June 17, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this after reading a quite positive review in the San Francisco Chronicle's Books section, since I have an ongoing interest in the English language. (It's not my mother tongue, but I feel I've mastered it quite well after living in the US for 17 years.) Sadly, while it was often amusing, the work did not live up to my expectations.

It's perhaps best described as 100 short "columns" about random aspects of etymology and word formation. Each column takes specific word as a starting point, but usually that word is just a conversation starter. Sadly, many of the conversations don't go very deep. The least interesting ones degenerate in long lists of words that "also" follow a specific pattern. The best ones taught me interesting things I didn't know before, but there just weren't enough of these. Some of the worst ones seemed to just be improvisations, discussing some of the author's opinions on non-language-related subjects or telling almost-funny jokes.

The author is also quite keen on the new words brought to us by the age of the Internet. Sadly, he appears to be a rather casual Internet user and doesn't have much to add. Often when he tries to show off his knowledge of Internet jargon he misses the mark by emphasizing terms already obsolete or getting them slightly wrong. I suspect he's using some secondary sources.

All in all, not a total waste, but hardly the best $11 I've ever spent.
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By Athan
Format:Kindle Edition
I just LOVED reading this book.

A few years ago I read Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson and I enjoyed it thoroughly. But I bet that this tiny little tome will have a longer-lasting effect on my appreciation of the English language.

Not only is the author the consummate master of his topic, he's also head over heels in love with it. No exaggeration, you get the feeling he narrowed it down to 100 from his favorite 10,000 words. He weaves in the Celtic, the Anglo-Saxon, the Viking, the Latin and the Norman / French, but does not forget the American, the Indian or even the Pidgin and he goes looking for the medical and the Internet terms that have crept into the language too. As a Greek, and one who speaks five languages, I'm rather miffed he never refers to the Greek roots of several English words, but I regardless thought this was a masterpiece.

What we have here is a celebration of the English Language, rather than a mere story, basically. Reading this book is a bit like having the curator of the British Museum take you through his favorite ten exhibits. You get the history, the context, the evolution, everything.

I'm jealous of David Crystal. He gets paid to share his life's biggest passion.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read. January 19, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It took me a year of slowly reading and absorbing this book but it was well worth it. It covers a wide time frame and has a lot of cool insight into our language.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book June 26, 2013
By Bobbi
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a gift for my husband. He heard about it on NPR, was interested, so I gifted it. He loves the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars English in 100 words April 6, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Immensely entertaining and amusing, as well as educative. A must for lovers of the language, who are interested in the origin of words an how time can change meaning
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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).

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