Book review: "The Stories of English" by David Crystal Languages translation jobs
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Book review: "The Stories of English" by David Crystal

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I had the good fortune to stumble across this wonderful book recently, and I found it both entertaining and informative.

As the title suggests, the book tells the various stories by which the English language has come to be what it is today. (It's as much about history and politics as it is about language.)

This isn't the only book to cover these topics, of course, but at 584 pages this is certainly one of the most comprehensive and well researched.

What makes this work so special is that it doesn't just concentrate on the history and character of "standard" English:

"Indeed, for every one person who speaks Standard English, there must be a hundred who do not, and another hundred who speak other varieties as well as the standard. Where is their story told?" (p. 5)

In this vein, it tells the stories of the rise of British English, American English, Scottish English, creoles, street slang and, most recently, Internet English.

It argues that we're presently in the middle of a period of rapid change and growth of English, and these are among some of its many conclusions (p. 529):

1. Language change is normal and unstoppable, reflecting the normal and unstoppable processes of social change.

2. Language variation is normal and universal, reflecting the normal and universal diversity of cultural and social groups.


4. A highly diversified society needs nonstandard varieties ('nonstandard language') to enable groups of people to express their regional or cultural identity.

I recommend this enjoyable and instructive work to anyone who has an interest in this wonderful and diverse language: English.

You'll find many more helpful tips like these in Tim North's much applauded range of e-books. More information is available on his web site, and all books come with a money-back guarantee.

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