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The Story of English [Library Binding]

Robert McCrum , Robert MacNeil , William Cran
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 28.45 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

June 5 2008 1435297644 978-1435297647 Reprint
Now revised, The Story of English is the first book to tell the whole story of the English language. Originally paired with a major PBS miniseries, this book presents a stimulating and comprehensive record of spoken and written English-from its Anglo-Saxon origins some two thousand years ago to the present day, when English is the dominant language of commerce and culture with more than one billion English speakers around the world. From Cockney, Scouse, and Scots to Gulla, Singlish, Franglais, and the latest African American slang, this sweeping history of the English language is the essential introduction for anyone who wants to know more about our common tongue.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Library Journal

A tie-in for a nine-part television series to be broadcast over PBS beginning in September, this is a wide-ranging account of the travels and changes of the English tongue from its beginnings to tomorrow, from England to America to Australia to Africa and India and the Pacific. Despite an occasionally perceptible British bias, the authors have tried hard to paint a colorful, vivid picture of the many faces and varieties of English. The text is never dull, but is enlivened by innumerable examples and by interviews with representative individuals: a minister in Scotland, a couple from the Appalachians, a storekeeper in Newfoundland, a Philadelphia shoeshine man, a cockney fruitseller, an Australian farm family, the president of Sierra Leone, a writing professor in India. A readable book that all public libraries should have. BOMC alternate. Catherine V. von Schon, SUNY, Stony Brook
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'A modern classic.' Sunday Times 'A first-rate introduction to one of the most fascinating of subjects.' The New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
Twenty years ago, when I was working with William Cran and Robert MacNeil on the research and development stage of the television series that, initially, accompanied the book, not one of us suspected that the linguistic phenomenon were analysing - global English - was on the brink of becoming a worldwide sensation. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
After watching the series it is fun to see the information in print.
Just about everything you ever wanted to know about the English Language is in this book. There are newer and older references but none so complete and at the same time readable. This book covers history, usage, almost usage and possible futures of the language.
One of my favorite antidotes was the one about how the Advisory Committee on Spoken English (ACSE) discussed the word "canine":
"Shaw brought up the word 'canine', and he wanted the recommendation to be 'cay-nine'... And somebody said 'Mr. Shaw, Mr. Chairman, I don't know why you bring this up, of course it's 'ca-nine'. Shaw said, 'I always pronounce things the way they are pronounced by people who use the word professionally every day.' And he said, 'My dentist always says (cay-nine)'. And somebody said, 'Well, in that case, Mr. Chairman, you must have an American dentist.' And he said, 'Of course, why do you think at 76 I have all my teeth!'"
After reading about how English came about, the next book to read would be "Divided by a Common Language" by Christopher Davies, Jason Murphy
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing lack of triumphalism Dec 20 2001
I read this book back in my 'English Conversation Teacher' days in Japan. Having been embrassed one to many times by students having to lecture me, their teacher, on the history of English, I figured I should do some 'catch-up reading.' I asked around for suggestions and was recommended 'The Story of English'.
It is free of the linguistic jargon most general readers would find pedantic, and although it is aimed at the general reader it is never condescending. The first half of the book explains the historical development of English while the second half focues on modern English.
Most refreshing though, is that it is free of the triumphalism found in many books of this kind. Reflecting the demographic reality of English today, it gives even-handed attention to the many contemporary varieties of English spoken around the world in places such as North America, Singapore, India, the Anglophone West Indies, and so on.
'The Story of English' is best suited to those who are curious about the origins as well as the future of English, and who want an easy-to-understand introduction to the subject.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read - - nice pictures Dec 26 2000
This book is a very readable and well researched introduction to the history of the English language. It contains a great deal of material about the many varieties of English, including separate chapters on Irish English, Scots English, American English, Caribbean English, and Australian and South African English. The photographs and maps that are featured throughout the book are excellent. The maps provide invaluable insights to the historical processes of change, and the pictures make the history come alive. In some places, it is clear that the book was written as a companion to the TV series, when the narrative takes us to an interview with a dialect speaker and then falls flat. If you have access to the video, the motivation for these interviews is much more clear when you can hear the person talk. This book would be excellent for the general reader; it would also make a good textbook for an introductory course on the development of English.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic overview Aug. 6 2000
This is a wonderfully readable overview of the history of the English language, but very indepth as well. I highly recommend it. Perhaps the only problem with it is its size, but this allows for great maps and photos which help you follow along with the text. The greatest thing about it is that it isn't just a story of English, but of "Englishes."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff! May 4 2000
This book is a must read for anyone interested in the English language and it's orgins. As an English teacher I have found the book to be a usefull reference and teaching tool. The book is also written clearly and in lay language so anyone can understand it.
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