Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Irreview, Book Review: The Story of English in 100 Words

Along with geoscience, another academic interest that has taken hold in me as of late is anthropology and, more specifically, linguistics.  There's something about the macro of people that I find fascinating.  A friend of mine would call it "wisdom of crowds," but I think I'll just stick to something a little more vague.  Like... things humans do in groups.  Of which language is one of the most obvious of those things.

David Crystal's The Story of English in 100 Words, published in 2011, is a fascinating and often humorous journey through the history of the English language, starting with the first recorded English word ("roe") and ending with "twittersphere."  Using the eponymous 100 words, Crystal identifies sources, trends, and uses of words both common and rare, and even provides quite a bit of information concerning words that are now, for all intents and purposes, extinct.

While avoiding too much depth in any one aspect of language, Crystal delves deep enough into the anthropology and history of English to paint a fairly comprehensive picture of our strange and magical tongue.  That stated, I would've like more... more words and more depth.  Were this book called The Story of English in 200 Words, I imagine I'd have found it near perfect.

Still, if there is a more entertaining and better written introduction to the nuances of English, I would like to read it.  There probably is one.  And I wouldn't be surprised if David Crystal wrote that one, too.

Rating: 20 (Style: 5 stars; Substance: 4 stars).

As with my review for The Nutshell Technique, this review does not warrant a "Things I Learned" section.  Unlike my review for The Nutshell Technique, however, this review doesn't have a "Things I Learned" section because that was basically the entire book.  Go read the book and then you'll know what I learned.  Nyer.

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