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The Cambridge encyclopedia of language (1987)

by David Crystal, David Crystal

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Cambridge Encyclopedia

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2131011,835 (4.15)2
Where did human language come from? How many languages are there? How do we acquire our first language or learn a second one? The highly acclaimed Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language by David Crystal answers these and other questions about language. From hieroglyphics to trucker talk, from Shakespeare in pidgin to sneezing in Tongan, this is a stimulating and richly illustrated guide to the variety, structure, history and theory of language. David Crystal not only conveys the intrinsic fascination of the subject, but also its enormous complexity. The visual dimension of the encyclopedia throws a fresh light on what has traditionally been treated as a non-visual subject, with many drawings, photographs, maps, display boxes and extracts all integrated within the text. In addition, appendices, meticulous cross-referencing and indexing ensure that this is an authoritative work of reference for students, professionals and general readers alike.… (more)

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» See also 2 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Notes - Describes the conflict between descriptive and prescriptive; contains photograph of the world's largest book. I need to examine this.
  keylawk | Nov 18, 2019 |
I've made a bit of an exception with my review of this book. Normally, I read the book cover to cover before writing my review. But, in this case, we have a 472 large pages packed with information. It is really a reference book and one can dip into it at any point and learn something fascinating. I must say that I was fascinated as I skimmed my way through. The scope of language is vast...though the author freely admits his field is linguistics and there are whole fields of language such as the philosophy of language where he is not expert. He covers a vast range of topics under 11 main headings which are:
1. Popular ideas about language
2. Language and identity..such as geographic or social identity.
3. The structure of language ...including statistical analysis of language and grammar.
4.The medium of language: speaking and listening
5. The medium of language: writing and reading
6. The medium of language: signing and seeing
7. Child language acquisition
8. Language, brain and handicap (such as deafness).
9. Languages of the world
10. Language in the world (eg translation, world languages such as Esperanto).
11. Language and communication (including chimpanzee communication).
There is a wealth of detail here, Tables, charts, maps and little information boxes. It really is a fascinating book. I certainly intend to come back to it and delve into it more systematically than I have to date.
Oh, the version that I have is somewhat dated ..and is really a version from 1987...though reprinted in 1992. I'm sure that the field of linguistics has moved on a long way from there ...though I also suspect that the substance of the book will still be sound. I did notice the technology (computers etc) were, of course, very dated.
nevertheless I give it 5 stars. ( )
1 vote booktsunami | Sep 5, 2019 |
An indispensable resource for anyone studying, or interested in, language ( )
  Pezski | Jun 8, 2017 |
Crystal is smart, his talents bend toward the encyclopedic (fox not hedgehog), and there is lots of good information in here and I'm glad I read through it to get a bit of basic grounding in all the far-flung corners of language study as I became by surprise a full-time editor in the field of linguistics (what, who, huh me? I was gonna be a speech pathologist/lexicographer/civil servant/journalist/teacher/diplomat/English prof! Life is a slow foreclosure, I suppose). But I can't help but wonder a bit, who else other than people looking to get a basic all-around grounding in language fields is this book good for? Anything it can do, Wikipedia can do better. I guess old habits, like the making of encyclopedias, die hard; I guess they are being slowly foreclosed on too. Mutatis mutandis! ( )
1 vote MeditationesMartini | Jan 21, 2016 |
Wonderful book, open it at any page and there's something of interest. I hope someone will buy me the 3rd edition!! ( )
1 vote NaggedMan | Jan 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Crystal, Davidprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crystal, Davidmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Böckler, ArianeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Röhrich, StefanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Part 1:  Why does language provide such a fascinating object of study?
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Where did human language come from? How many languages are there? How do we acquire our first language or learn a second one? The highly acclaimed Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language by David Crystal answers these and other questions about language. From hieroglyphics to trucker talk, from Shakespeare in pidgin to sneezing in Tongan, this is a stimulating and richly illustrated guide to the variety, structure, history and theory of language. David Crystal not only conveys the intrinsic fascination of the subject, but also its enormous complexity. The visual dimension of the encyclopedia throws a fresh light on what has traditionally been treated as a non-visual subject, with many drawings, photographs, maps, display boxes and extracts all integrated within the text. In addition, appendices, meticulous cross-referencing and indexing ensure that this is an authoritative work of reference for students, professionals and general readers alike.

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From publisher's website: This new, thoroughly revised edition of the acclaimed Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language incorporates the major developments in language study which have taken place since the mid 1990s. Two main new areas have been added: the rise of electronic communication in all its current forms from email to texting, and the crisis affecting the world's languages, of which half are thought to be so seriously endangered that they will die out this century. • All language statistics have been updated, and additional information provided about their linguistic affiliation • All topics involving technology have been revised to take account of recent developments, notably in phonetics, language disability, and computing • Maps have been revised to include new countries or country names • Special attention has been paid to fast-moving areas such as language teaching and learning • The text design has been completely updated with many new illustrations throughout

• Features new sections on the rise of electronic communications and language death • Incorporates all major developments in language study since the mid 1990s • Statistics, geographical information, illustrations and text design have all been revised and updated from the last edition

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