Spell It Out

Spell It Out

The Curious, Enthralling and Extraordinary Story of English Spelling

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:

The fascinating and surprising history of English spelling from David Crystal, everyone's favorite expert logophile

With The Story of English in 100 Words, David Crystal took us on a tour through the history of our language. Now, with Spell It Out , he takes on the task of answering all the questions about how we spell: "Why is English spelling so difficult?" Or "Why are good spellers so proud of their achievement that when they see a misspelling they condemn the writer as sloppy, lazy, or uneducated?" In thirty-seven short, engaging and informative chapters, Crystal takes readers on a history of English spelling, starting with the Roman missionaries' sixth century introduction of the Roman alphabet and ending with where the languagemight be going. He looks individually at each letter in the alphabet and its origins. He considers the question of vowels and how people developed a way to tell whether or not it was long or short. He looks at influences from other cultures, and explains how English speakers understood that the "o" in "hopping" was a short vowel, rather than the long vowel of "hoping". If you've ever asked yourself questions like "Why do the words "their", "there" and "they're" sound alike, but mean very different things?" or "How can we tell the difference between "charge" the verb and "charge" the noun?" David Crystal's Spell It Out will spell it all out for you.

Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2013, c2012
Edition: 1st U.S. ed. --
ISBN: 9781250003478
Branch Call Number: 421.52 Cry
Characteristics: vii, 328 p. : ill., map


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

May 02, 2018

This book is a must for teachers struggling with the 'write and spell' line in curriculum documents - and for parents who are trying to understand it. The teaching appendix is helpful to anyone. French is so much easier to read and spell, and Italian more so, as every letter in the word is pronounced. Now I am eager to read more of Dr. Crystal's books!

Apr 12, 2018

Everything is so clear and enthusiastically written. Many of the end of chapter insertions are really great: check out the one on page 222.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at WPL

To Top