Sunday, December 16, 2012

The story of English in 100 words by David Crystal

I love words. I love history. Ergo… I love etymology (the history of words). I majored in English for my Bachelor degree, followed up with a Masters in English. For all those years, all those papers, I very rarely read anything that didn’t need translating into ‘good modern, idiomatic [English] prose’. I revelled in Icelandic sagas, coped with ‘Beowulf’, immersed myself in Chaucer, laughed at the Mystery/ Cycle plays...

I’m currently going through a phase of reading about words, and this book has stood out in my gleaning of the shelves.

Words have the power to convey more than their dictionary meaning. Hidden in seemingly innocuous letter combinations are tales of fashion, invasion, trade, class structure, politics, science, and medicine.

From ain’t to yogurt, roe to Twittersphere, Crystal delves into words and what they show about the history of the English language and, to quite a large extent, the greater history of the world. Crystal has done so with no little wit, wisdom and joy. His love of the subject, and of words themselves, is evident. Such overt delight invites the reader to join in the enjoyment.
I’m sure any word-smith would be glad to do so.

~ Reviewed by Aud Selene. 

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