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How Language Works
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About the Author

David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and the editor of The Penguin Encyclopedia.

Reviews

In 73 short chapters, prolific linguist Crystal (The Shakespeare Miscellany) distills his knowledge and passion into a "personal account" to introduce a wide variety of topics relating to language. The text sometimes resembles lecture transcripts, as Crystal addresses general readers without fully engaging the range of scholarship, builds no unifying thesis, and forgoes footnotes and endnotes. Nevertheless, he deals with an impressive breadth of material, which he divides into ten sections. Nineteen diagrams are incorporated, including anatomical charts. Crystal wants each chapter to be a "self-contained unit," and in following with this, each begins with a "how" statement, e.g., "how we perceive speech" or "how languages change." The fine breakdown for each chapter both helps readers seeking specific topics and encourages browsing. However, the addition of a glossary for technical linguistic terms would have helped significantly, and the lack of scholarly documentation is not exemplary for students. As Crystal's "personal account," this introductory work is unique yet offers a breadth of material. Recommended for large public libraries. [See Crystal's Words Words Words, reviewed at right.-Ed.]-Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

A world authority on language, Crystal (The Stories of English) offers an impeccably organized guide to language and communication that brings clarity to a scholarly subject, and is sure to become a standard reference. Written in an unadorned style, Crystal's chapters are purposeful lessons ("How we use tone of voice"; "How children learn to mean"; "How we choose what to say") that demonstrate his pedagogical genius for rendering complex matters simple. Crystal's tome imparts a vast amount of knowledge concerning intricate and interrelated aspects of speech, the written word, lexicography, grammar and neurological aspects of communication; it encompasses issues of identity, ethnicity and the preservation of disappearing languages, the structural organization of the world's different language families, multilingualism, and the pragmatic uses of artificial and natural languages. A feat of academic distillation, Crystal's book abounds in wisdom and dry wit. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

[Crystal] succeeds again and again with clarity, wit, and enthusiasm. . . . Time and again a point is made and illustrated with a fact or anecdote that perfectly drives it home. . . . It is a marvelous ride.
"The New York Times"
An invigorating plunge . . . A crash course in linguistics, covering spoken, written, and sign language . . . The book will prove, to language geeks, invaluable.
"The San Diego Union-Tribune"
An impeccably organized guide to language . . . sure to become a standard reference.
"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)
A a[Crystal] succeeds again and again with clarity, wit, and enthusiasm. . . . Time and again a point is made and illustrated with a fact or anecdote that perfectly drives it home. . . . It is a marvelous ride.a
a"The New York Times"
A aAn invigorating plunge . . . A crash course in linguistics, covering spoken, written, and sign language . . . The book will prove, to language geeks, invaluable.a
a"The San Diego Union-Tribune"
A aAn impeccably organized guide to language . . . sure to become a standard reference.a
a"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)
? ?[Crystal] succeeds again and again with clarity, wit, and enthusiasm. . . . Time and again a point is made and illustrated with a fact or anecdote that perfectly drives it home. . . . It is a marvelous ride.?
?"The New York Times"

? ?An invigorating plunge . . . A crash course in linguistics, covering spoken, written, and sign language . . . The book will prove, to language geeks, invaluable.?
?"The San Diego Union-Tribune"

? ?An impeccably organized guide to language . . . sure to become a standard reference.?
?"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)

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