The Story of English in 100 Words

The Story of English in 100 Words

Book - 2012
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The world's foremost expert on the English language takes us on an entertaining and eye-opening tour of the history of our vernacular through the ages.

In The Story of English in 100 Words , an entertaining history of the world's most ubiquitous language, David Crystal draws on one hundred 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--'roe'--was written down on the femur of a roe deer in the fifth century. Featuring ancient words ('loaf'), cutting edge terms that relfect our world ('twittersphere'), indispensible words that shape our tongue ('and', 'what'), fanciful words ('fopdoodle') and even obscene expressions (the "c word"...), David Crystal takes readers on a tour of the winding byways of our language via the rude, the obscure and the downright surprising.

Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2012, c2011
Edition: 1st U.S. ed. --
ISBN: 9781250003461
Branch Call Number: 422 Cry
Characteristics: xxi, 260 p. : ill


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IndyPL_SteveB Dec 07, 2018

English language expert Crystal takes 100 sample words that have come into the English language from various other cultures over the centuries and uses these words to demonstrate the amazing variety, fluidity, and flexibility of our language. He begins with “roe”, what some people think is the first identifiably English word, dating to perhaps as far back as the early 400’s. It refers to the “roe deer” of Britain. He gives us an essay on “and” and the ampersand. “Billion” turns out to have had two different numerical meanings.

Crystal has fun with words from other cultures like tea, yogurt, and trek. And he spends a lot of time on what is clearly a fascination of his – variations on “netspeak,” including “webzine,” “app,” LOL,” “unfriend,” and “Twittersphere,” to show how the language is still changing rapidly. And impolite words are not neglected.

It’s educational, of course, but also lots of fun.

Oct 11, 2018

Quite likely the most enjoyable, and undoubtedly the best organized, history of English. Every sort of change in language from spellings, meanings, backformations, slang, abbreviations, grammatical changes, loanwords, pidgin languages, and others are all exemplified by a particular word. And along the way, the ideas of language cranks from times past as well as difficulties of modern English and its diverse forms from around the world are briefly discussed. Sadly, there is no bibliography or any further reading guide. Its easy to read, always lively, sometimes humorous, and infectiously enthusiastic.
The index is just a simplified and alphabetically reorganized version of the table of contents.


Very informative and fun. can be read in bits, non sequentially.

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