How Language Works: Book summary and reviews of How Language Works by David Crystal

How Language Works

How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, and Languages Live or Die

by David Crystal

How Language Works by David Crystal

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Book Summary

A parrot uncomprehendingly rattles off a string of words learned by rote. And we marvel! Yet we seem to take our own astonishing linguistic powers for granted—the ability to speak, listen, and understand, to read and write. We all understand why language works—we have to communicate to survive—and now David Crystal, the world authority on language, shows us how.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A feat of academic distillation, Crystal's book abounds in wisdom and dry wit." - PW.
"... for the general reader, however, it is a user-friendly introduction to the many hitherto-unthought-of aspects of language. Packed with information, memorable anecdotes and surprising statistics, all presented with assurance and enthusiasm." - Kirkus.
"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." - Library Journal.

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Author Information

David Crystal Author Biography

Photo: Crystal Business Partnership

David works from his home in Holyhead, North Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster. Born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland in 1941, he spent his early years in Holyhead. His family moved to Liverpool in 1951, and he received his secondary schooling at St Mary's College. He read English at University College London (1959-62), specializing in English language studies, did some research there at the Survey of English Usage under Randolph Quirk (1962-3), then joined academic life as a lecturer in linguistics, first at Bangor, then at Reading.

He published the first of his 100 or so books in 1964, and became known chiefly for his research work in English language studies, in such fields as intonation and stylistics, and in the application of linguistics to religious, ...

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