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David Crystal's A Little Book of Language (Little Histories) PDF

By David Crystal

With a language disappearing each weeks and neologisms bobbing up nearly day-by-day, an realizing of the origins and forex of language hasn't ever appeared extra correct. during this fascinating quantity, a story heritage written explicitly for a tender viewers, specialist linguist David Crystal proves why the tale of language merits retelling.

From the 1st phrases of an toddler to the atypical sleek dialect of textual content messaging, a bit publication of Language levels commonly, revealing language’s myriad intricacies and quirks. In lively type, Crystal sheds gentle at the improvement of certain linguistic types, the origins of vague accents, and the hunt for the 1st written observe. He discusses the plight of endangered languages, in addition to profitable circumstances of linguistic revitalization. even more than a historical past, Crystal’s paintings seems ahead to the way forward for language, exploring the impression of expertise on our day by day examining, writing, and speech. via enlightening tables, diagrams, and quizzes, in addition to Crystal’s avuncular and enjoyable variety, A Little publication of Language will show the tale of language to be an enthralling story for every age.

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

Sample text

L’ means ‘Lucy’. ‘M’ means ‘Mateo’. And letters take on other meanings too. ‘X’ means ‘kiss’. ‘K’ means ‘cornflakes’. ‘P’ means ‘Parking’. ‘M’ means ‘McDonalds’. It’s a short step from here to reading sequences of letters, such as ‘Ben’ or ‘Dad’, and saying them at the same time. Children learn that ‘words’ are things that have spaces on either side. And they notice the shapes of some of these words standing out on the page. In reading about Winnie the Pooh, for example, many children can point to such names as ‘Pooh’, ‘Tigger’, and ‘Owl’, when asked to do so, even though they can’t read the other words on the page.

It gets worse. Sometimes two letters stand for one sound. Make the sound which tells someone to be quiet. If we write it down, we have to use two letters: ‘sh’. Or more than two, if we make a really long shushing noise: ‘shhhh’. ’ That’s quite a lot to learn. 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.

Or a piece of elastic used for holding things together. Or a flat strip of material forming part of a dress or a hat. If we look the word ‘band’ up in a dictionary, we’ll find it has about a dozen meanings. How do we know which is which? The answer is simple. We put the word into a sentence. And we use the grammar of the sentence to tell us what the word means. ’ That has to be the ‘group of outlaws’ meaning. It couldn’t possibly mean a pop group. ’ That has to be the pop group. The lady in the shop offers us a choice: ‘You can have the jacket with a red band on the sleeve or a green one’.

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