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David Crystal (1) (1941–)

Author of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language

For other authors named David Crystal, see the disambiguation page.

104+ Works 12,888 Members 184 Reviews 2 Favorited

About the Author

David Crystal is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor.

Works by David Crystal

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (1995) — Author — 1,425 copies
The Stories of English (2004) 1,297 copies
How Language Works (2006) 917 copies
A Little Book of Language (2010) 502 copies
The Cambridge Factfinder (1993) 311 copies
By Hook or By Crook (2007) 266 copies
English as a Global Language (1997) 264 copies
The Shakespeare Miscellany (2005) 238 copies
Language Death (2000) 238 copies
The Penguin Encyclopedia (2003) 220 copies
Linguistics (1971) 198 copies
Rediscover Grammar (1988) 181 copies
Words Words Words (2006) 180 copies
The Cambridge Encyclopedia (1990) — Editor — 168 copies
Txtng: The Gr8 Db8 (2008) 155 copies
Language and the Internet (2001) 140 copies
Language Play (1998) 117 copies
As They Say in Zanzibar (2006) 87 copies
Making Sense of Grammar (2004) 47 copies
Discover Grammar (1996) 33 copies
The New Penguin Factfinder (2003) 32 copies
A Dictionary of Language (2001) 29 copies
What is Linguistics? (1968) 14 copies
Clinical Linguistics (1981) 9 copies
Grammatical Analysis of Language Disability (1976) — Author — 9 copies
Nineties Knowledge (1992) 7 copies
Working with LARSP (1979) 3 copies
Languages after Brexit : How the UK Speaks to the World (2018) — Contributor — 3 copies
The Encyclopedia Codes (2020) 1 copy
Language A to Z (1991) 1 copy

Associated Works

A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926) — Editor, some editions — 3,057 copies
Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World (2012) — Foreword, some editions — 140 copies
What’s Language Got to Do with It? (2005) — Contributor — 51 copies
Dr Johnson's Dictionary (2005) — Editor — 45 copies
Eric Partridge in His Own Words (1939) — Editor — 37 copies

Tagged

Bible (30) biography (95) dictionaries (109) dictionary (327) drama (27) encyclopedia (242) England (27) English (814) English grammar (28) English language (662) English usage (90) etymology (73) grammar (284) hardcover (43) history (328) Kindle (23) language (1,990) language and linguistics (72) language history (43) languages (128) library (27) linguistics (1,302) literary criticism (28) literature (36) non-fiction (1,101) own (44) phonetics (32) read (66) reference (1,600) sociolinguistics (31) spelling (32) style (30) style guide (36) textbook (26) to-read (432) unread (56) usage (98) William Shakespeare (242) words (105) writing (183)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Crystal, David
Legal name
Crystal, David
Birthdate
1941-07-06
Gender
male
Nationality
UK
Birthplace
Lisburn, Northern Ireland, UK
Places of residence
Holyhead, North Wales, UK
Liverpool, Merseyside, England, UK
Education
St. Mary's College
University College London (BA|1962|Ph.D)
Occupations
linguist
academic
lecturer
broadcaster
Relationships
Crystal, Ben (son)
Organizations
University College, Bangor
University of Reading
Crystal Reference Systems Limited
Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading
Society of Indexers
Awards and honors
Officer, Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (1995)
Fellow, British Academy (2000)
Founding Fellow, Learned Society of Wales (2010)
Honorary Fellow, Chartered Institute of Linguists
Fellow, Royal College of Speech and Language
Short biography
David Crystal is one of the world's pre-eminent language specialists.  An honorary professor at Bangor University, he has published many books on the English language and linguistics, edited several general encyclopedia and written textbooks on language for use in schools.  He is a regular contributor to radio and television programs.  He lives in Holyhead, Wales.  [adapted from A Little Book of Language (2010)]

Members

Reviews

I have this on my bedside table & am reading it slowly & savoring it. Makes me want to (a) go back to Wales and (b) take a linguistics course. Lovely writer!
 
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Abcdarian | 8 other reviews | May 18, 2024 |
"The Stories of English" is a necessary, dense, well-researched volume by an expert who clearly has a true passion for the language and its variations. However, it has some clear advantages and some very clear flaws. (I'm fully aware that it's a bit bathetic of me to dismiss any writing but this most wonderful of linguists, however I adore all of his other books!)

Crystal's mandate is clever and clear: provide a history of the evolution of the English language, with a particular eye to studying "non-standard English" in all its varieties. Changes to the language - be they merely regional slang, or international pidgin dialects - are too often forgotten, due to the fact that they rarely appear in surviving print documents, and Crystal wants to lift a light on the subject. We begin with a thorough examination of the growth of Early English, brought together by French, Latin, Anglo, Danish, and so on. Using extensive contemporary texts, Crystal analyses the development of the language, asking such questions as: why do some "loan words" overtake others?; why do some variations remain?; who has the right to decide which language is 'correct'?; and so on, and so forth. Gradually, he moves through Middle English, and into the Modern aspects of the language. Along the way, Crystal continues to provide lengthy excerpts from documents, and finds examples of how the 'non-standard' parts of the language arose, remained, and were treated by those on the 'right side' of English.

There are two particularly notable strengths to the book. The first is Crystal's true passion, which allows him to introduce a variety of texts from centuries ago, and make us feel intrigued by them. The second is his desire to expose the fallacies of those who believe English has exact rules, and should remain within its confines. From the earliest surviving texts, he finds examples of whiners - whether it be those who believe no French or Latin words should be included, or those who are terrified of ending sentences with prepositions - and explains where these mistaken beliefs came from. Crystal doesn't write everything off (he understands, after all, where they come from), but strives to show that strictness for strictness' sake is ridiculous.

However, the book is far from perfect. First of all, despite the claims in the blurb, Crystal's style is often dry and academic. Fair enough, this was never going to be "Gone with the Wind". But particularly in the early chapters, when the subject is six-hundred-year old manuscripts, and the variations of individual letters, it would've been promising to have a slightly more witty tour guide. And, while the first two-thirds of the story are comprehensive, the final third largely covers UK-specific English. There is one fascinating if dry chapter on the development of English throughout the world, but it's quite limited. Again, I understand the need for this, and it actually helps support Crystal's argument that much non-standard English, both on a historical and on a global standpoint, is under-researched, but - to a non-UK reader - things did become a bit specific toward the end.

Crystal has one other adorable but infuriating quirk. He's inclined to make witty - or at least clever - jokes and puns without prior explanation. On several occasions, however, the explanation is so obscure that he's forced to provide an endnote to his explanation of his own witticism. In these cases, he really could've done with just setting up the joke in the main body of the text, as I'd imagine most readers would have had to utilise these endnotes often!

All in all, I'm glad to have read this book. I picked up a lot of fascinating new information, and many of the excerpts were utterly astounding in what they exposed about the lives of our ancestors. At the same time, it never quite found the perfect balance between "popular science" and academia.
… (more)
 
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therebelprince | 18 other reviews | Apr 21, 2024 |
Very clever. Crystal uses each word as a starting point for a brief discussion on the ways our language has changed and developed over the centuries, reminding us all of the idiocy of such movements as "language reform", and of the joy we should feel every time we piece together a sentence. We're not just using a language. We're working with a breathing mass of orphans, stragglers, immigrants, and naturalised citizens from so many languages and cultures, now working together in an often unstable and cacophonic new world. And I love it.… (more)
 
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therebelprince | 30 other reviews | Apr 21, 2024 |
This was a delight. Linguist David Crystal's word book of one hundred English words does a great job of exploring and explaining the history of English and how words change and get added to the language. He read it wonderfully, and his light Welsh accent contributed to its feeling like he was telling me a story. Recommended, especially on audio.
 
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lycomayflower | 30 other reviews | Mar 29, 2024 |

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