A Little Book of Language (Little Histories) by David Crystal

By David Crystal

With a language disappearing each weeks and neologisms arising nearly day-by-day, an realizing of the origins and foreign money of language hasn't ever appeared extra appropriate. during this fascinating quantity, a story background written explicitly for a tender viewers, professional linguist David Crystal proves why the tale of language merits retelling.

From the 1st phrases of an child to the atypical smooth dialect of textual content messaging, a bit booklet of Language levels largely, revealing language’s myriad intricacies and quirks. In lively type, Crystal sheds mild at the improvement of distinct linguistic kinds, the origins of vague accents, and the quest for the 1st written observe. He discusses the plight of endangered languages, in addition to winning instances of linguistic revitalization. even more than a historical past, Crystal’s paintings appears to be like ahead to the way forward for language, exploring the impact of expertise on our day by day studying, writing, and speech. via enlightening tables, diagrams, and quizzes, in addition to Crystal’s avuncular and exciting sort, A Little ebook of Language will exhibit the tale of language to be an enthralling story for every age.

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Additional info for A Little Book of Language (Little Histories)

Sample text

She said. ‘Good girl,’ said her father, giving her the biscuit. Adding ‘ta’ for good measure. What’s he doing? Now he’s teaching Sue how to carry on a polite conversation. Children have to learn about saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ (‘ta’, to begin with), and this is done by the parents saying the words over and over until the child picks them up. It takes quite a while, but by age four most children have learned some basic linguistic manners. Children have to learn all sorts of things about how to talk politely to other people.

It’s a complicated business, and it takes several months to sort it all out. What is ‘the lot’? Which parts of our body do we use when we talk? They’re called the vocal organs, and there are more of them than we might think. Some, like our lips, we can easily see. Others are hidden, but we can feel them. Some are very tiny. And others are really quite large. The largest are our lungs. Now, you might not have thought that the lungs are ‘vocal’ organs. indd 21 13/01/10 2:47 PM 22 a l i t t l e b o o k o f l a n g ua g e way from our mouth.

But there are still more possibilities. ’, with a capital letter. ’, all in capitals. Or we could turn it into a word, and write ‘Shush’. indd 47 13/01/10 2:47 PM 48 a l i t t l e b o o k o f l a n g ua g e Capital letters add an extra complication. Although there are 26 letters in the English alphabet, when we write them down it turns out that there are 52, because each letter appears in two forms. We have ‘big A’ and ‘little a’, ‘big B’ and ‘little b’, and so on. Printers don’t use words like ‘big’ and ‘little’.

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