The world's foremost expert on the English language takes us on an entertaining and eye-opening tour of the history of our vernacular through the ages.
In The Story of English in 100 Words, an entertaining history of the world's most ubiquitous language, David Crystal draws on one hundred 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—‘roe'—was written down on the femur of a roe deer in the fifth century. Featuring ancient words (‘loaf'), cutting edge terms that relfect our world (‘twittersphere'), indispensible words that shape our tongue (‘and', ‘what'), fanciful words (‘fopdoodle') and even obscene expressions (the "c word"...), David Crystal takes readers on a tour of the winding byways of our language via the rude, the obscure and the downright surprising.
From pre-eminent British linguist Crystal (The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language) comes this delightful history of the words we use (and some we ve forgotten) and how we came to use them. Neither a wordbook nor a linguistic history, Crystal emphasizes that his selections demonstrate how English a vacuum cleaner of a language developed by sweeping up words from other languages These loanwords range from street (from the Latin strata) to dame (with a complex history as an indicator of social status) from the French. Moving chronologically from roe (fifth century) to Twittersphere (21st century), Crystal spells out each word s origin; the word s sometimes-roundabout journey to the present-day meaning is explored, and often grammatical conundrums are answered. Case in point: why is there a b in debt, as its origin was the French word dete (or dette)? Blame scholars who wanted sophistication and drew from the Latin debitum. Crystal also touches on the coining of new words when the mood strikes, citing famous examples in Shakespeare and Joyce as well as the crop of technology-inspired neologisms. Crystal s enthusiasm for and wealth of knowledge about the ever-evolving English language makes this a must-read for word lovers.