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Crystal, David The Stories of English

ISBN 13: 9781585676019

The Stories of English

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An innovative history of the English language draws on the rich diversity of dialects of nonstandard English speakers and regional accents all around the world, as well as the dialects that appear in a variety of literary classics, to explain the colorful variety and significance of the language. 20,000 first printing.

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About the Author:

David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and the editor of The Penguin Encyclopedia.

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*Starred Review* For at least 200 years, the story of English has been the story of Standard English triumphant. But now, in a work of unprecedented scope and range, a distinguished linguist challenges that deceptive hegemony, showing with piquant detail and lively anecdote that no standards of correctness have ever really contained the surging energy of English, in all it multiform varieties. From the syntactical inventiveness of tenth-century Norse invaders to the lexical ecumenism of twenty-first-century Tex-Mex ranch hands, Crystal traces the diverse and unpredictable influences that have shaped English into an unruly family of dialects, creoles, and patois. To be sure, Crystal acknowledges the emergence during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries of a prestigious standard version of English. Yet he shows in instance after instance that the tempests of linguistic change have often overwhelmed the custodians of the King's English, compelling them to accommodate forces they could not control. And though he never loses his focus on language, Crystal allows some of its more colorful users--including Chaucer, Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, and Thomas Jefferson--to bring their personalities and voices into the chronicle. Accessible to the nonspecialist, Crystal's rich chronicle still presses deeply enough into key episodes (the Great Vowel Shift and the Elizabethan effervescence, for instance) to entice even casual readers into the more scholarly sources listed at the end of the book. Why, after all, should professional philologists hog all the fun? Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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