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The Story of English in 100 Words

by David Crystal

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3752660,289 (3.63)12
In this unique new history of the world's most ubiquitous language, linguistics expert David Crystal draws on words that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences, and events that have helped to shape our vernacular since the first definitively English word was written down in the fifth century ("roe," in case you are wondering). Featuring Latinate and Celtic words, weasel words and nonce-words, ancient words ("loaf") to cutting-edge words ("twittersphere"), and spanning the indispensable words that shape our tongue ("and," "what") to the more fanciful ("fopdoodle"), Crystal takes us along the winding byways of language via the rude, the obscure, and the downright surprising.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
A fascinating and readable account of how the English language developed. Expect more than 100 Words - while each section is ostensibly about a particular word, this is just a stalking horse. There can be a dozen or more related words explained in the section. ( )
  dunnmj | Mar 10, 2022 |
Entertaining. Small nuggets of info on English words. ( )
  PattyLee | Dec 14, 2021 |
I really enjoyed this book, learned the first English word and "Bill and Ted" even gotten a section under the word dude. My favorite of the 100 words was fopdoodle, fop a fool, doodle a simpleton thus fopdoodle was a fool twice. Luckily the author was only a fopdoodle once that I caught when he credited Thomas Edison for the invention of the telephone instead of Alexander G. Bell. But it's a book about words not inventions. ( )
  kevn57 | Dec 8, 2021 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this look at the English language. David Crystal presents 100 words, each one illustrating a concept in the development and evolution of our language. He talks about borrowed words, spelling changes, suffixes becoming words, the influence of new technologies on language development. Absolutely fascinating! ( )
  LynnB | Mar 14, 2021 |
I'm a word nerd, so I found this book very interesting and very accessible. After very short historical explanation of how the English language came to be. "...English is a vacuum cleaner of a language, whose users suck in words from other languages whenever they encounter them." Crystal has chosen 100 words to examine and analyze, looking at their contribution the language as a whole. Each word has a brief explanation, that is humorously and thoughtfully written. Examples: roe -- 5th century -- 1st written English word, identifiable as such. It was carved on a deer bone -- naming it as from a certain species. Some other fun examples: bone-house, a word painting (kenning) from the 10th century to mean the human body. "cuckoo" -- 13th century -- a word that describes a sound (onomatopoeia) more than the creature; Watergate -- the use of a place name (toponym) as a noun or verb; strine -- a word coined for comic effect, usually playing off its pronunciation, more than its actual spelling. (e.g. "ickle, = little sly drool = slide rule). The most important word of the 20th century? "jazz." If this book doesn't help you win Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit, nothing will. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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In this unique new history of the world's most ubiquitous language, linguistics expert David Crystal draws on words that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences, and events that have helped to shape our vernacular since the first definitively English word was written down in the fifth century ("roe," in case you are wondering). Featuring Latinate and Celtic words, weasel words and nonce-words, ancient words ("loaf") to cutting-edge words ("twittersphere"), and spanning the indispensable words that shape our tongue ("and," "what") to the more fanciful ("fopdoodle"), Crystal takes us along the winding byways of language via the rude, the obscure, and the downright surprising.

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