Monday, 4 July 2011

Words, Words, Words

David Crystal, the author of Words, Words, Words, is an academic. But he is much, much more than being "just" an academic. David Crystal loves language and words. And this approach shines through this book.

In Words, Words, Words, David Crystal makes it crystal clear (no pun intended) why he believes that words matter to each and every one of us very much indeed. And the book is very easy to read, to understand and to use.

He looks at all types of words. The familiar words that we all know. Less familiar words that perhaps we should know, older words, newer words.

He points out that some people who put themselves forward as protectors of the English language are often no more than pedants. Or even worse! He even shows that some of them are just plain wrong.

He quotes an example of a friend who thought that the increasing use of the word "gotten" (as in "my dog had gotten out of the garden" was "the beginning of the end" for the English language.

Far from it, points out David Crystal. For the word gotten was employed by none other than Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales! David Crystal makes the point that "rather than approaching an end, we seem to be going back to the beginning." His friend also seems unaware of the old phrase "ill-gotten gains".

The book is an eclectic one and, as I said, his love of the English language shines through it, on every page. It covers loan words, the lore of words, wordgames, wordplay, how one might discover the history of a word, how words are built, how to estimate the size of your vocabulary, dialects (and how to get involved with them) etc., etc., etc.

If you have even a passing interest in words and the English language, then this book is for you. It is published by Oxford University Press and is available in hardback at £12.99.

(EDITOR Every writer needs this book on their bookshelf. Be That Writer can thoroughly recommend it.)

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