David Crystal was born in 1941 and spent the early years of his life in Holyhead, North Wales. He went to St Mary's College, Liverpool, and University College London, where he read English and obtained his Ph.D. in 1966. He became lecturer in linguistics at University College, Bangor, and from 1965 to 1985 was at the University of Reading, where he was Professor of Linguistic Science for several years. His research interests are mainly in English language studies and the applications of linguistics, and in the development of book and electronic reference materials. He is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and a past president of the Society of Indexers. David Crystal has published over 50 books, including Linguistics (Penguin 1971, second edition 1985), A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, Clinical Linguistics, Who Cares About English Usage? (Penguin 1984; new edition 2000), The English Language (Penguin 1988), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, The Penguin Dictionary of Language (Penguin 1999), Language Death, Words on Words, a collection of quotations on language and languages, written in collaboration with Hilary Crystal and Shakespeare's Words, written in collaboration with Ben Crystal. He is also the editor of the Cambrid
Leading British linguist Crystal (Shakespeare's Words) immediately distinguishes his pluralistic study of English's evolution from the standard, narrowly focused histories by describing not only how it evolved on an isolated island example from a Germanic language to the standard English we know today., but also on marginalized regional dialects, vernaculars and other "nonstandard" examples, beginning with the origins of Old English. He shows, for example, how even Chaucer and Shakespeare embraced dialects in The Canterbury Tales and Henry V. There are also lighter moments, such as Crystal's examination of the Anglo-Saxon intonations of Yoda in Star Wars and of Tolkein's Middle Earth idioms. Writing of the 18th century, the author contrasts the proscriptions of Dr. Johnson and others regarding spelling, grammar and pronunciation with the efforts of Americans such as Noah Webster to differentiate American from British English. (Regional and ethnic variations elsewhere in the British Empire receive more cursory treatment.) However, Crystal glosses over the current status struggle in the U.K. between more "authentic" dialects, such as the northern Liverpudlian, and newer ones, such as the suburban Estuary English. As for the language's future, Crystal wishes to see Standard English taught alongside familiarization with the varieties of dialects. Although he doesn't spell out how to accomplish this, his well-informed and appealing book makes a good case for the importance of dialects. 9 b&w illus., 12 maps. (Oct. 5) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Crystal (Shakespeare's Words; Language and the Internet) is a professor of linguistics who was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 1995 for his services to the English language. His wonderful postmodern study of the history of the English language, for both the scholar and the educated reader, breaks new ground in its attention to nonstandard English and to dialectal dialog in literature at all periods of the development of the language. Crystal shows how linguistic change and other aspects of historical and cultural change are linked and delights in geographic and ethnic variation. Beginning with "The Dream of the Rood," an Old English or Anglo-Saxon poem, he reveals that "linguistic purity" has never existed and that English is far more interesting and complex than standard accounts of normative language have indicated. The book reads easily. As its title implies, it tells many stories-and tells them well. Essential for all libraries.-Carolyn M. Craft. Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"This new history of the English language in all its manifestations is among the best ever written, and is both entertaining and informative."