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How Language Works: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning and Languages Live or Die [Kindle Edition]

David Crystal
4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A world authority on language, Crystal (The Stories of English) offers an impeccably organized guide to language and communication that brings clarity to a scholarly subject, and is sure to become a standard reference. Written in an unadorned style, Crystal's chapters are purposeful lessons ("How we use tone of voice"; "How children learn to mean"; "How we choose what to say") that demonstrate his pedagogical genius for rendering complex matters simple. Crystal's tome imparts a vast amount of knowledge concerning intricate and interrelated aspects of speech, the written word, lexicography, grammar and neurological aspects of communication; it encompasses issues of identity, ethnicity and the preservation of disappearing languages, the structural organization of the world's different language families, multilingualism, and the pragmatic uses of artificial and natural languages. A feat of academic distillation, Crystal's book abounds in wisdom and dry wit. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Longtime language writer and linguistics professor Crystal (The Stories of English, 2004) offers a well-organized, thoroughly comprehensive guide to language and communication in 73 short chapters. The passionate word enthusiast addresses every aspect of language, including how we learn to speak, read, and write; the physiology behind the formation of speech sounds; how we choose what to say; how gestures and tone of voice impact communication; how the brain handles language; and how language tells us where we are from. After beginning with spoken and written language, Crystal moves on to sign language, language structure, discourse, dialects, language families, and multilingualism. The book also includes diagrams of the human tongue, ear, and brain; a chart of Egyptian hieroglyphs over time; and illustrations of finger spelling. Although its size and subject matter may suggest otherwise, this volume is aimed at and written for general readers, and Crystal makes for an especially genial guide. Whether expressing his fair-minded assessment of the prescriptive-descriptive debate or knowledgably discussing the connection between dialects and social status, he proves to be both accessible and informative. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 2080 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 511 Seiten
  • Verlag: Penguin (29. März 2007)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B002RI9B30
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #120.803 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Great beginner's guide to basics in language! 24. Juni 2006
Von S. Sch.
Crystal did a good job at writing an introductory work to language in general, with the target group being interested non-linguists. The language is plain and clear, the reader does not need to have any preknowledge in linguistics, and the many short chapters are written in an informative, interesting way.

Of course, the chapters are very short and can by no means be used as the basis for intensive study. In addition to that, the appendixed 2-page bibliography is too short and does not cover every part mentioned in the book itself. It could have helped if Crystal had given reference to corresponding literature right after the chapters. Because of that, I'll only give 4 of 5 stars.

Nevertheless, this is a very interesting book for everyone who wants to know what basically goes on in language without reading extensive works. This is the easiest introduction you can find, written by an expert on the matter.
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 0.0 von 5 Sternen  0 Rezensionen
40 von 41 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen An Excellent Overview of the HOW 19. Juli 2007
Von J. Birchell - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I would strongly disagree with the review that contends that this book does not explore its subject matter in enough depth. I particularly disagree with the reviewer when he keeps asking for further explanation ("it doesn't explain WHY...") The book is not intended to explain why. As the introduction makes clear, it is intended as an explanation of the HOW of linguistics; in other words, it is intended as a diagnostic overview of linguistic science. It is not a scientific investigation. It is not a historical (or etymological) overview of linguistic practices. It is a description of those practices. In this light, it succeeds admirably. I found the book extremely informative as an effective introduction to linguistics. And I did NOT find it a difficult read.
If you have no background study in linguistics, I HIGHLY recommend this book.
15 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A Total Book on Language 8. Februar 2007
Von Ray Cemic - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This book covers every aspect of language: the physiological, paralingual communication, nuances of language, and almost any other thing that you can think of involving language. It is from England so some of the spellings and phrasings are different, but I found it to be interesting, readable, and full of new information, based on the latest research.
29 von 33 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen How Language Works is highly recommended. 10. Dezember 2006
Von Midwest Book Review - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
How Language Works: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, And Languages Live Or Die by expert linguist David Crystal is a comprehensive guide written for lay readers and linguistic scholars alike to how language develops and evolves, both in individuals and in societies. In addition to chronicling how new languages are created from the mixing of cultures, and surveying the process of how languages die, How Language Works also makes an impassioned plea to protect and sustain as many languages as possible in a modern world beset with the threat of literally thousands of human languages on the verge of extinction. Championing languages as facets of intellectual and cultural diversity as well as miracles of science and nature, How Language Works is highly recommended.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Beautiful Layout, Good Overview 21. Februar 2009
Von K. F. Barnes - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
This book is really beautiful - the fonts used and the layout are very distinctive. A++ on that.

The book itself is a series of short chapters on a wide variety of language topics each of which could stand alone. It is interesting and well written, if a tad dry, but not too deep on any one topic. Think of a series of magazine articles in a magazine devoted to a particular interest, where the level of vocabulary assumes some knowledge of the topic. The chapters are all cross referenced - it would easily move to a web article.

The breath of topics is very wide - from sounds and physiology to computer translation by way of grammar and language families. Overall it is very informative, but a book to take in small doses.
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Panoramic overview onto the world of language... 27. März 2010
Von A. Panda - Veröffentlicht auf
Maybe it will sound strange, but what I liked most about the book was not its content but its form: what a concise, structured, balanced and nearly perfect syntax! The sentences, paragraphs, sub-sections and chapters are of a perfect size and everything is written in a clear and comprehensible manner. The indentation and the typography for both text and titles were carefully designed and the kind of paper and the binding are of excellent quality, so the book is a pleasure to read and handle.

The book is an excellent introduction to linguistics or to how language works, starting from the anatomy of the vocal apparatus to how we produce sounds, from how we articulate them into a language to how we hear and distinguish language from noise; then it turns to how different parts of our brain process language to how we assign meaning and how languages are structured to better convey this meaning (how grammar serves semantics). It also includes sections on how languages are born, how they evolve and how they die, as well as how the currently existing languages belong to certain language families. Finally it concludes with how we can take care of languages in order to preserve the language diversity (and therefore the cultural heritage) of the world, since languages are extinguishing at an extremely fast pace, maybe even faster than that of the extinction of animal species.

The author covers a lot of topics, but for the same reason he delves not too deep into any of them. Regarding the topics that interested me most, I would have liked greater detail, but this is probably not possible in a book with such a wide scope. This book will probably lead you to some more specific sources in some linguistic area. Regarding the evolution and constant change of languages, as well as some specific examples of how these language shifts occur, I highly recommend The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention. For a deeper explanation of how the brain processes language The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by S. Pinker is a good choice, although I still need to read The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (P.S.), which is probably better. Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition gives you an excellent overview of the evolutionary steps that led from apes to modern humans - vocal apparatus included -together with the changes in the representation modes (and thereby memory) involved in these steps (from episodic to mimetic to narrative or linguistic and finally to symbolic, which allowed for written language).
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