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)2012 AudioGO
The book is well suited to intermittent listening because each word gets it's own 4-5 minute chapter without any overlap. Conversely, just as each etymology becomes interesting it's time to move on, which gets frustrating.
He uses obscure words as well as current coinage (such as "blogoshpere") to demonstrate all the various ways words enter our language. There is really no grand conclusion about the history of the language so a better title might be "The story of 100 English words."
It's entertaining and light and the performance is very good.
It might've been better to maybe do twenty words and go more in depth on each. Spending three to five minutes on a word makes this more like listening to a bunch of capsule summaries. Anyhow, I still learned something and hope some of it sticks.
Who knows English better than, well, the English? And David Crystal, the writer AND narrator, is a British linguist who presents here not only a history of his native tongue but also gives us an unbiased look at how it has adapted regionally throughout England itself as well as throughout the globe. Write on, Mr. Crystal!
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