Customer Reviews: The Story of English in 100 Words
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Showing 1-10 of 13 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on January 8, 2012
Like the two volumes of Foyle's Philavery which I have reviewed on Amazon earlier, this volume, by an author who has written twelve other books about the English language, makes another pleasant and entertaining gift for logophiles. Here, too, you come across some words (bone-house, bodgery, dragsman, mipela, doobry, bagonize, chillax), though nothing like as many as in the Philavery volumes - but then the purpose of this book is different: it is to show when familiar words first appeared, how in some cases the spelling has changed, how words have evolved over the years and how new words - some ephemeral, some enduring - are constantly being coined. It may not be all that interesting to discover when a word was first used, and again only a few of those evolutions - like how "glamour" evolved from "grammar" or what "lunch" originally meant - are surprising. Crystal has collected many modern coinages - acronyms, abbreviations, slang - some of which are familiar (especially those deriving from the internet), while others will not be - Obamabots, for example: people who robot-like support Barack Obama, for instance. There are also several references to regional words, used only in parts of the United Kingdom. He also has passages on American English, Australian English, pidgin English etc.

Although there are 100 sections, each with one word as its title, in fact Crystal uses many of them as triggers to talk about a great many other words. So, to give just one example, in the article headed "lakh" we also have references to "godown", "bungalow", "dungaree", "guru" and no fewer than 50 other words which English has borrowed from Indian or Arabic, or which Indian English has invented. So there is a lot of information in this book, and Crystal's enthusiasm, breadth of knowledge, and ruminations about language are very engaging.
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on December 2, 2014
I have purchased David Crystal’s books since I started to study English as a Foreign Language long time ago, and I got used to his style. After reading his The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of English Language, I expected something deeper.
So, do not expect to learn the story of English in this book. On the other hand, we should ask ourselves: is that possible to tell the story of English in 100 words?
Well, Crystal explain how he did it in the preface of his book : “ it is , of course, a personal list. If you would choose 100 hundred words to represent the English language, they would certainly be different.”
Considering he has a great knowledge in Language Teaching and Learning and is a famous writer in this field, I guess he can write a good book in this issue, maybe better than any other writer. Besides, it`s good price.Therefore, it’s worth to buy the book.
I did not read the story of English, but I learned lots of curious aspects of English language.
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on March 13, 2013
I I gave this book 4 stars because I wanted more! It is a good romp through 100 words used in the English language - primarily used by English rather than American speakers. There was a lot of reference to words used in specific areas on the United Kingdom, and it reminded me of my growing up!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 2, 2012
This is an interesting set of words though I doubts any two authors if they are to state the story of English in 100 words will pick anything in common. The book has words from unfriend to twittersphere to street to some pre 10th century English words. It is a good conversation piece book and can be had on a coffee table or English buffs. There are some taboo words so be careful handing this to kids !
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VINE VOICEon May 26, 2016
I love language - not only learning foreign languages, but also wordplay, puns and especially linguistics (as it reflects and applies to history.) The English language is rich with borrowed and invented words as well as words that have been changed or "drifted" over time. A history of English in its own words is a rather in-depth look at English and its changes over time. Crystal's _THe Story of English_ is cut from the same cloth.

Crystal, in his choice of 100 words not only shows the influences of conquerors and cultural changes in changing English from our language's Germanic roots to the infusion of French after 1066 through the Renaissance and its introduction of Latin and Greek to the creation of new words in the late 20th century as technology necessitates a new vocabulary. Speaking of vocabulary, I was particularly struck by Crystal's explanation of linguistic terms as he showed the changes language makes. I also enjoyed his "cheating" of his list - while he highlights 100 words (from the 5th century to the recent past), other similar words and phrases are also used ("jail" and "gaol" - both apparently produced the same, but spelled differently, the story behind which was fascinating.)

While it is a brief read (just over 200 pages), its a fascinating look at how language is a living thing, and an interesting exposition into the history of English speakers.
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VINE VOICEon January 13, 2016
Books about "100 Things" have been popular on the shelves since the release of the phenomenally popular BBC's radio series and tie-in book THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 100 OBJECTS. This is Crystal's lively entry in the pack, as he examines the history of the English language from the first word written in runes on a deer's bone ("roe") in the year 400 to the 100th word with a very modern feel ("twittersphere"). In between are words that came from other languages ("street" from Latin, "brock" from Celtic, "skunk" from American, "dinkum" from Australian, "trek" from Boer Dutch), words derived from invaders ("pork" from Norman French), words to describe new technology ("garage"), words from Shakespeare, fiction, imports turned sideways, two words from different regions which eventually became represented by one ("eggs"), etc. A fascinating dip into a bag of assorted words for the linguistically-inclined among us.
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on December 31, 2013
What a delightful romp through a thousand years of etymology. If you've got an online etymology dictionary as a favorite/bookmark, you'll love this book.
WARNING: Your spouse, significant other, children, friends, or coworkers may not share your enthusiasm. Try to limit how many entries you read to them.
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on January 21, 2014
This is required reading if you are interested in languages, and especially English. In an ingenious way, the author delves into the background of the English language, without getting too esoteric. (In other words, it is not like a textbook, and is never boring.)
But experts in the English language might take exception to this book, as being a little TOO light. I enjoyed it very much!
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on September 23, 2013
As a language tutor, I can never get enough about the history of the English Language and different stories to present to my students to enhance their understanding and vocabulary.
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on May 26, 2014
Very interesting way to look back on the influences on current English words. May make me want something more inclusive when I have time to delve into the subject.
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