The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language Paperback – Feb 13 1997
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In the late 1980s David Crystal wrote his testament to human language, celebrating the world's diversity and reveling in the beauty and complexity of expression. But even great references need the occasional overhaul. Crystal's new edition takes into account the linguistic changes wrought in the decade since the original's inception. With the introduction of new topics (conversational misunderstandings, for example), a more pleasing typeface, and full-color pictures, the tour de force that was his first edition has been upgraded to a new level of quality. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
This is a collection of concise and readable essays on the many subfields of linguistics, ranging from the invention of the alphabet to the Kurzweil Reading Machine and covering both theoretical and applied approaches to the subject. Numerous illustrations and charts make the text more vivid, and a glossary, a table of the world's languages, and several indexes make it eminently usable. Respected British linguist Crystal has done an admirable job of condensing information from many specialized fields into a form that will be intelligible to lay readers as well as linguists. Useful for public as well as academic libraries. Catherine V. von Schon, SUNY at Stony Brook Lib.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Instead of being organized alphabetically, as most encyclopedias are, _The Encyclopedia of Language_ is divided into eleven parts that comprise sixty-five thematic sections. Each section includes a comprehensive discussion of the theme, enhanced by sidebars and colorful visuals. Sections range in length from two to twenty pages, making the chunks of information small enough to be palatable yet large enough to be satisfying.
Topics addressed include language and thought, the structure of language, the anatomy and physiology of speech, written language, language acquisition, languages of the world, language disabilities, and language change. Obviously, this is only a sample. In addition, the book has eight appendices, including an extensive glossary and a table giving information about nearly 1,000 of the world's languages.
While many of Crystal's topics have their technical aspects, the author keeps his tone conversational and his information accessible to the lay reader. In this way he celebrates the existence of human language and deepens our appreciation of it.
These 11 categories are further broken down into 65 subsections on such subjects as "Language and Thought," "Investigating Children's Language," and "Language And The Brain."
One of the beauties of this book is that it practices what it preaches. In the section on Plain English, it emphasizes simplicity as the key to readability and it is written in just such a simple, readable manner. In this regard, Crystal quotes the recommendations of the "Plain English Advocates" as follows:
"Prefer the shorter word to the longer one. Use simple . . . . rather than fancy ones."
"Write short sentences with an average of no more than 20 words."
"Write short paragraphs with an average of about 75 words."
And very importantly, I think, "Write with your ear. . . . . Do not write anything you could not comfortably say."
There is much more like this. Along these same lines he quotes George Orwell's six rules of what to do when instinct fails. A couple of these rules also merit mention.
"Never use a long word when a short word will do." and "If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out." And, again, more along these lines.Read more ›
But that's what it is, and it's absolutely fascinating. It's a large format, profusely illustrated book on the history, structure, analysis and use of the English language, from the earliest arrival of the Angles in the British Isles, to the latest computerized analyses of language, and everything in between. There are features on Old English, dialect, regional differences, drift, humor, grammer, writing systems, alphabets...and it's all presented in the most engaging and entertaining manner.
Now I am perhaps more enamored of this sort of thing than the typical reader, having come from a psycholinguistics background, but I think there's much in here to entertain (and inform) anyone with even a passing interest in language, and English in particular. There are long articles that delve into areas in detail, but there are also enough brief sidebars to make this an excellent book for simply opening at random to pick out an entertaining bit here and there.
And of course it's all authoritative enough to serve as an excellent resource for the beginning linguistics student as well. Quite an accomplishment.
Most recent customer reviews
Indeed ,David Crystal is a great and famous linguist of this century .His books about language are very important for students and common readers . Read morePublished on May 1 2004 by Aslam Rasoolpuri
This book contains everything a linguist would ever want. David Crystal has brought together everything he knows about child language aquisition, journalese and a plethora of other... Read morePublished on Dec 16 2003 by R. Boshell
This isn't Everything You Need to Know to Become a Linguist. But it *is* a good reference book for people who aren't linguists and would like to see what the field is about. Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2000 by Yoon Ha Lee
Great examples, photos, illustrations not to mention a wealth of information on various aspects of language study. Worth every penny!Published on Jan. 16 2000 by Scott G. Shelp
I blew it... I don't know how my earlier review of this book wound up with only two stars - I intended to give it FIVE stars, as I hope will be obvious to anyone who reads the... Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2000 by Adelie
This is a "twofer" review - everything I say about this book also applies to Crystal's "Encyclopedia of the English Language. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2000 by Adelie
While it doesn't cover any particular subject with too much depth, this book provides a wonderful introduction to many aspects of linguistics, including sociolinguistics,... Read morePublished on Oct. 31 1999 by Zach May
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