How Language Works

How Language Works David Crystal s How Language Works is a fascinating tour through the world of language from one of today s most renowned experts It ranges over everything from how children learn to read to what makes

  • Title: How Language Works
  • Author: David Crystal
  • ISBN: 9780141037363
  • Page: 458
  • Format: Paperback
  • David Crystal s How Language Works is a fascinating tour through the world of language from one of today s most renowned experts It ranges over everything from how children learn to read to what makes words rude or polite, from eyebrow flashes to whistling languages Unlocking the secrets of communication in an accessible, entertaining way, this exhilarating book sheds liDavid Crystal s How Language Works is a fascinating tour through the world of language from one of today s most renowned experts It ranges over everything from how children learn to read to what makes words rude or polite, from eyebrow flashes to whistling languages Unlocking the secrets of communication in an accessible, entertaining way, this exhilarating book sheds light on the endless mysteries of the language we speak, write and read every day.

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    About "David Crystal"

    1. David Crystal

      David Crystal works from his home in Holyhead, North Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster Born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland in 1941, he spent his early years in Holyhead His family moved to Liverpool in 1951, and he received his secondary schooling at St Mary s College He read English at University College London 1959 62 , specialised in English language studies, did some research there at the Survey of English Usage under Randolph Quirk 1962 3 , then joined academic life as a lecturer in linguistics, first at Bangor, then at Reading He published the first of his 100 or so books in 1964, and became known chiefly for his research work in English language studies, in such fields as intonation and stylistics, and in the application of linguistics to religious, educational and clinical contexts, notably in the development of a range of linguistic profiling techniques for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes He held a chair at the University of Reading for 10 years, and is now Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor These days he divides his time between work on language and work on internet applicationsurce davidcrystal

    676 thoughts on “How Language Works”

    1. Subtitle: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, and Languages Live or Die. It took me a bit to figure out what about this book on linguistics seemed odd to me: there's no Big Idea. Which is kind of cool, really.By "Big Idea", I mean the grand overarching theory that the author is in the throes of. Like Noam Chomsky's Universal Grammar, or Stephen Pinker's rejection of the Blank Slate. It doesn't mean Crystal has nothing to say. However, what you will not find here is a Grand Thesis, which tie [...]

    2. An enjoyable overview of linguistics. Crystal's 73 chapters can be read consecutively, or - he claims - dipped into at random. Each chapter is a short introduction to one topic. For example, 'How vocabulary grows' or 'How to study dialects'. Since each is only five pages or so, you know not to expect too much - it's an orientation to the topic.Towards the end of the book (unless you randomly start there, of course), Crystal shows his great desire in writing: to encourage more interest in and con [...]

    3. There's so much information in this book that it's difficult to absorb it all, let alone recall it a few days after the fact. To a language enthusiast like me, it was fascinating; I could see how many or perhaps most readers might get bored. Some chapters are much more interesting than others: I'm not that jazzed about the explanation of how we physically produce a uvular fricative, but I love the discussions of how humans learn language and about common features that all languages share. Crysta [...]

    4. While this book isn't specifically geared toward helping writers become better, it's a comprehensive look at how language develops and is learned and used.In 73 chapters it covers introducing language, spoken language, written language, sign language, language structure, discourse, dialects, languages, multilingualism, and looking after language.Despite its length, the book is a fast read and unexpectedly enjoyable. Think of it as a introduction to language as a whole, as it doesn't go into grea [...]

    5. Personally I found this book frustrating: It covers too much material in too few pages (and my edition is almost 500 pages of very small print). The coverage of each topic was too superficial to be engrossing. I already knew a lot of the material and was disappointed not to learn more: He would mention something that would pique my interest, but then move right on to something else. For the material I didn't already know, the discussion was too cursory to really stick: no examples, analysis, or [...]

    6. A clear and concise listing of all the issues that are related to language, from the physiological (how we produce sounds, how we hear sounds) to how we use language. The latter is, of course, a large subject, including such items as how babies learn language from their parents, how we mean something different than what we actually say ("It's cold in here!" can be interpreted as "Close the window, please!"), and my favorite subject, the status of dialects and how its in constant influx.This book [...]

    7. This is an interesting and easy to read book. The chapters do not need to be read consecutively, each is a self-contained essay on some aspect of language.I had hardly started the book, when it started me on an observational quest for an "Eyebrow Flash". I got one that same night from the ticket seller when I went to see a movie. Here is what the book says on page 7:"Some visual effects are widely used in the cultures of the world. An example is the EYEBROW FLASH, used unconsciously when people [...]

    8. I would almost think about rating this book 4 stars (and then buying a copy), but there were several chapters that were extra informative (the type that makes me sleepy) and slightly fluffy. However, I very much enjoyed what I did learn regarding basic linguistic concepts, the many facets of cultural communication, what we know about how the brain works in constructing language flow (verbal, written, physical, etc) and the plethora of other connect-the-dots type of information (73 chapters worth [...]

    9. This book is arranged in chapters that can stand alone or be read as a volume. Chapters are divided into sub chapters which similarly stand alone or can be read as a cohesive work of prose.While the author is British, the emphasis is universal. The British influence shows the most in the discussion of dialects.The articles vary from being anecdotal to factually meaty. The chapters on vocabulary show how vocabulary is learned with great anecdotes and factual backup. Like Crystal, I think that thi [...]

    10. A good introduction to languages and everything about them. I found the chapters on language families particularly interesting. As it is only a introduction, it does not go deeply into the specifics.

    11. ''Aren't you lovely!' said a man outside the window of a car showroom, unaware that a linguist was passing him at the time.'73 pithy chapters giving an introduction to the many facets of language.

    12. The preeminent David Crystal begins this book for the general reader with some straightforward descriptions of what phonetics, graphetics, and cherology are all about. He then moves on to the areas of semantic and linguistic analysis. The sociological and political aspects of dialects and languages are then discussed. Finally he delivers succinctly a reprimand against prescriptivist fantasy and ethnocentric parochialism. Parts of the book may seem tedious and superficial but if one reads between [...]

    13. This book works best as a reference book. It has knowledgeable, interesting, well-presented information and covers a lot of area, but it’s not in a format to easily read from start to finish.

    14. I usually need to prepare myself mentally for reading non-fiction: think stretches, deep breathing, andgo. I find I can only read a few pages at a time before longing for something more readable. Yet this book was so fascinating and well written that I found myself sitting and reading for hours at a time. Language is a concept that, despite being used constantly, is not often given the thought and time it really deserves. As a language teacher my interest in the subject probably goes beyond that [...]

    15. I was hopeful that this book would be as interesting as Wolf's "Proust and the Squid" in its discussion of how language allows humans to communicate. Indeed, the table of contents looked impressive. However, it was more like a semi-comprehensive reference book, with a few pages on each topic. Probably good as a jumping-off point if you are interested in some aspect of language, and probably better appreciated by linguists who already know the jargon. Written in a very dry, sterile manner and wit [...]

    16. This books is everything you need about language! Is so easy to read because you don't have to follow a specific order. If you want to know about semantics, skip to the middle; if you want to know about phonetics, take it from the beginning; if you want to learn about multilingualism, be my guest and skip everything till the very end!I wished I had read this book before I started majoring in linguistics, or even before I decided on what I wanted to major on. If you love languages but you are not [...]

    17. Imagine an intro to linguistics book without the practice problems. Yup.This is the book in which Crystal says as little as possible - while still offering a coherent overview - about as many topics as possible.If I didn't already know most of what he'd said, I might have found this a helpful introduction. I can imagine that, for a first-time reader of linguistic topics, this book could be enlightening about which topics actually interested that reader. But that's not at all what I was hoping fo [...]

    18. I'm going to be starting A2 English Language in September and I found this book excellent preparation. It's been helping my mind busy with linguistic terminology during the holidays so that when I get back I'll be ready to go!I would say though that you do need quite a strong base of knowledge to understand it fully as it does get quite complex and the book is quite dense and tough going. But that said, it's very informative and covers nearly every base you can think of. Stick with it until the [...]

    19. I am afraid that I was disappointed with this book. I love the topic of language and I do not think that I have ever failed to read one to completion.There's a first time for everything.This book is a very shallow survey of so many aspects of language that is repeatedly degenerates into an exercise in listing disciplines.Eventually I simply couldn't continue to read an endless, unmemorable survey of the field of linguistics.

    20. Though the writing style itself is good, the content is very generalized and introductory. This might make a reasonable introductory text for a linguistics course, but did not really hold my interest. Even the section on language families, which was of greatest interest to me, lacked the basics of an actual diagram showing the inter-relationships of the language families. Instead, Crystal includes multiple chapters of prose, one family following the other. Disappointing.

    21. A very comprehensive look at how language works. Since I took a couple of linguistic classes and spent a lot of time on foreign languages in college, not much of this was new to me, so I skimmed through a great deal of this book. There were maybe about a dozen chapters that I read from start to finish. However, for the amateur linguist, or anyone thinking this might be a career direction they'd like to explore, this is the book for you.

    22. An excellent introduction/supplement on linguistics. It includes the scientific, artistic and political sides of linguistics. It would make a great textbook, keeping in mind that there are no excercises.I also really enjoyed that he explained fully the stance of the modern linguist towards language change and variation, and prescriptive grammar.I highly recommend this to anyone interested in learning about linguistics/language.

    23. Detailing not only the history of language but also the importance, How Language Works is a great start to any budding linguists collection. This book covers everything to do with the development and depth of language. Not only as a whole but also individually, covering dialects, pidgins and creoles. I enjoyed this and learned a lot. Definitely worth a read if you're learning a language or simply interested in language generally.

    24. This book is an excellent overview and summary of everything about language. I've already read many books by David Crystal, but he never ceases to impress me with his knowledge and passion for language. One can certainly treat this book as THE book to read as an introduction to language studies. I would even say this: if you're thinking about studying linguistics but are not sure if you'll like it, then read this book first. It will definitely help you make up your mind.

    25. Accessibly written, this book has been the perfect introduction to linguistics for me. Each chapter provides a decent overview of the different area of linguistics and language which could be studied further elsewhere. Although I read this book cover to cover, it's written in such a way that you could dip in and out of relevant chapters as you need them - I'm confident I'll be coming back to this book again and again for reference during my studies and beyond.

    26. Informative, but pretty basic and slightly boring. He tries to raise people's awareness of the eminent extinction of some languages and suggests that we take care of them BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE. Not sure if I agree. Languages are constantly changing, splitting, and disappearing. The death of a language is not tragic. It's natural.Anyways, this is a good book for the linguistically curious and uninformed.

    27. It's HUGE, the first book I have ever managed to read cover-to-cover on introductory linguistics, which says a lot for its readability. Written in laymen's terms, it still manages to say a lot that was new to me.It missed out on 5 stars because I felt it was a bit of a mixture: too long to be a layman's book, too superficial to be a first year university textbook.

    28. At times interesting and educational other times snore worthy. Was expecting it to be a bit more like the last book of David Crystal's that I read (Spell it out) which was much more layperson friendly and ( to me at least) consistently interesting. Still worth reading but most people (myself included) will need to break it up a bit to get through.

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