Sunday, February 27, 2011

Little Book of Language Review

Book talk: Have you ever wondered when exactly a baby starts taking on the sounds of its mother tongue?  Or where writing came from? or why English spelling is so weird?  Or what the heck is up with Basque?  David Crystal answers all those questions and more in this primer on language.  Everything from its origins to texting, from the mechanics of how we speak to the reasons why we do.  Crystal breaks it all down into bite-sized chunks covered with a smooth caramel coating of British wit to make it go down easier.

Rocks my socks: The scope of this book really is incredible and tantalizing and makes me want to learn more about language.  I love Crystal's narrative tone and all the amusing anecdotes he works in.  Some of the most amusing parts to me, however were parts that were probably never intended as such.  Crystal is English and writing for an English audience, as such he often uses examples that would seem every day to fellow Englishmen but that are delightful to a yank like me.  For example apparently in British Parliament you can't just call a fellow politician by their name, you have to call them either your Honourable (differences between American and British spellings are covered in chapter 10) Friend or an Honourable Gentleman depending on whether they're of your political party or not.  Delightful!  The British political and legal system never ceases to amuse me.

Rocks in my socks: This book seemed like a bit of tease to me.  Its scope is large but its depth is not.  It introduces a lot of topics and gives an overview of them, but I often felt disappointed that it didn't delve deeper.  To be fair, that wasn't the purpose of this book and if it had done so it would have had to be a series of books instead of just one, but it annoyed me nevertheless.

Every book its reader: I'd give this to anyone looking for an introduction to the study of language.  This book is a great starting point because it covers so many topics so you can see which areas you are most interested in to study farther.  I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who has already done much studying in this field because it is a fairly basic introduction.  The text is simple and entertaining enough to be enjoyed by teens if they had an interest in the subject.

A Little Book of Language by David Crystal

Buy it at your local independent book store or check it out from your local library

No comments:

Post a Comment