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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language Paperback – Feb 13 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Paperback, Feb 13 1997
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (Feb. 13 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521559677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521559676
  • Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 3.4 x 27.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #716,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
_The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language_, Second Edition, by David Crystal is a linguaphile's delight. It provides a wealth of information to engage the mind indefinitely.
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.
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Format: Paperback
According to the author, this book operates on two levels. First it addresses the kind of interest in language history and behaviour that we encounter daily (for instance: a young child's attempts to talk), and secondly, it attempts to make sense out of what we observe. To address these concerns, the book consists of 11 main categories having topics such as "Popular Ideas About Language," "The Medium of Language: Writing and Reading," and ""The Languages Of The World."
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.
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Format: Paperback
I have always found linguistics to be a fascinating subject, but my encounters with the majority of textbooks on this subject have made for rather dry reading. Bearing this is mind, I initially approached this book with low expectations. However, once I opened the cover I could not put it down again. David Crystal has a quite a talent for presenting various topics surrounding language in a way that is both extremely interesting and easy to understand. The eleven chapters address in general terms language structure, geographic and social factors relating to language, physiological and neurological aspects of speech and language acquisition, languages of the world, written language, and a great deal of more information covering a variety of language-related topics, to include sign language, body language, and animal communication. No one is going to become an expert on linguistics by merely reading this book, but it is a superb general reference and introduction to language and linguistics.
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Format: Paperback
If I were to describe this volume as a coffee table book on linguistics, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it would be hard to imagine something less inviting. Maybe a history of grout?
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.
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