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David Crystal’s best books and our favourite videos

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In the September issue of Writing Magazine, David Crystal explains the power of specialism, and how he’s written over 100 books on a single topic close to all of our hearts – language.

Scroll down to watch David’s entertaining videos, and here’s our pick of his books:

• English As a Global Language – How did English become the dominant language for global communication? How does it shape the culture of the world, and how does each culture shape it? The ideal starting point for anyone interested in exploring the thought processes behind our language.
• How Language Works – How language structures itself, how it is processed by the brain, how we learn to speak it… Complex etymological questions, answered in a way that is comprehensible to the wider reader.
• The Stories of English – Perhaps David’s most all-encompassing title, this is a marvellously readable anecdotal history of the English language, sure to entertain just about anyone with more than a casual interest in the words we use and why we use them
• The Gift of the Gab: How eloquence works – Writing requires fluency but speaking well requires a whole set of complementary skills. Pacing, pitch, phrasing, timing, and a whole host of concepts you might understand but not know the word for, are explored in a book that is guaranteed to influence the way you communicate orally
• Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist’s Guide to Britain – A quirkily inspiring travelogue that uses David and his wife Hilary’s genuine tour of the UK as a peg to explore geographical variations within English, unique local language and key locations in the history of English language and literature
• Words in Time and Place: Exploring Language Through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary – A fascinating exploration of English language history, tracing origins, roots and variations within fifteen themed categories (eg money, drunk, spacecraft), and the ups and downs of their popularity over the ages, and how they in turn reflect history.
• The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation – Ever think Shakespeare’s phrasing is awkward or arhythmic? Perhaps you just aren’t saying it right. This authoritative dictionary highlights how the lines were intended to be spoken – complete with accompanying sound files.
• Just A Phrase I’m Going Through: My Life in Language – An autobiography of sorts, Just a Phrase I’m Going Through uses David’s stories and history as a peg to explore basic concepts of linguistics, an approachable ‘soft’ introduction to the field

 

WATCH: David Crystal’s favourite word

 

WATCH: The places and people that shaped the English language

 

WATCH: Shakespeare’s spellings and pronunciation

See the September issue of Writing Magazine for our interview with David.

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