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The Stories of English (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 5. Mai 2005

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"This new history of the English language in all its manifestations is among the best ever written, and is both entertaining and informative."


When and why did 'thou' disappear from Standard English? Would a Victorian Cockney have said 'observation' or 'hobservation'? Was Jane Austen making a mistake when she wrote 'Jenny and James are walked to Charmonth this afternoon'? This superbly well-informed - and also wonderfully entertaining - history of the English language answers all these questions, showing how the many strands of English (Standard English, dialect and slang among them) developed to create the richly-varied language of today.

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Format: Taschenbuch
Ein sehr gutes Werk und ein absolutes Must Have für jeden, der an der Englischen Sprache interessiert ist.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.1 von 5 Sternen 46 Rezensionen
64 von 66 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Readable Historical Linguistics 11. Februar 2005
Von Larry K. Uffelman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
David Crystal's "The Stories of English" is an excellent book. Here's why. For one thing, his approach to the history of the English language is significantly different from that taken by most other authors on the subject. For another, his presentation is linguistically professional without being dull.

The title of the book is important: it focuses the thesis. Crystal traces the development of standard English, as do other historical linguists and such popularizers as Robert MacNeil and Bill Bryson, but-different from them-he traces it alongside the development of competing non-standard, dialects. He insists that one needs to see standard English developing and then existing alongside these other dialects. There are, he urges, several "stories of English," each of which can and should be appreciated.

Crystal argues that there are, in fact, several standard forms of English, each with its own history as it diverges from standard British English. There is, for example, standard American English, standard Canadian English, standard Australian English, and so on, each with a number of non-standard varieties existing alongside it. And there are varieties of English employed in such nations as India, where they provide communication across native language lines and exhibit their own characteristics. The very term "standard" English requires definition.

Amazingly, given the subject he covers and given that he is a professional linguist, Crystal writes accessibly for an educated general audience. For one thing, he breaks into his narrative to offer specific examples and details set off in boxes from the main text. The material presented in his boxed examples clarifies points raised in the main text and, if they occasionally prove a bit heady going for non-specialists, they can be skipped without significant loss. His writing itself is clear, detailed, and often witty. Crystal has done a fine job of explaining sometimes arcane matter without dumbing down and without writing in so technical a manner as to baffle understanding.

Finally, Crystal reviews several implications of there being "stories" and not "a story" of the English language. He says we need what we refer to as "standard" English because of the advantages it provides: we can speak to other English speakers in other countries easily, we can have easy access to their written and oral cultural artifacts, and so on. However, we also need to become less judgmental about non-standard dialects and learn to appreciate them. They are, after all, a part of what we mean when we speak the word "English."

This book would make a fine textbook or corollary reading for a college course dealing with the history of the English language. But it is also just a plain good read for a terrified amateur interested in the subject.
85 von 92 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting but heavy going at times 2. Oktober 2004
Von Calum in the Caribbean - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I am very pleased to have read this book, but I was glad to reach the end on page 534. I found the multitude of facts incredibly detailed and sometimes repetitive. The occasional flashes of humour and interesting snippets kept me going, particularly as the author came closer to modern times. This book is probably required reading for students of the English language. For interested amateurs it might at times prove to be heavy going.
31 von 31 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen From Anglo-Saxon to modern English 25. April 2006
Von John Duncan - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
David Crystal makes an ambitious attempt to provide a scholarly account of the development of the forms of English that we speak today from the highly inflected language -- virtually unintelligible to the modern English speaker -- that existed before the Norman Conquest. It is not primarily an academic work, as it largely avoids the technicalities involved in analysing and reconstructing the grammar and vocabulary of historical forms of English, but it is uncompromising in providing a wealth of examples from over the centuries. It is not light reading, therefore, but it is perfectly accessible to anyone who makes the effort.

There are at least two surprising aspects of the early history of English that Crystal tries to explain. First of all, how did it pass from the Anglo-Saxon of the 11th Century to the Middle English of the 14th, recognizably the same language that we speak today, in such a short time, with relatively little change in the longer period since? Nearly all of the old inflections disappeared in this period, and a torrent of words of French origin were adopted. Clearly this happened during a time when English was not the language of power in England, as the rulers were speaking French. That in itself brings us to the second surprise, one that is rarely pointed out, but is obvious once it is: why was it English that ultimately survived in England, and not the language of the conquerors? In other cases, such as the use of Portuguese in modern Brazil, it is the language of the conquerors that displaces whatever existed before. As with all such questions there is no one simple answer, but Crystal explains this partly in terms of the relatively small numbers of the Normans -- always a small minority in the country they had conquered, and partly in terms of increasing political rivalry between England and France, with increasing awareness of England as a country in its own right.

As English before the 17th century evolved entirely in the British Isles, and as the major changes occurred before then, it is inevitable that the diversification of the language into American and other modern variants comes late in the book. One can hardly describe the American English of a time when American English did not exist. Thus the complaint by an earlier reviewer of a British bias is not justified, and the later chapters discuss all of the variants of English that exist today.

The organization of the book is somewhat unusual: each chapter presenting a fairly conventional account of the development of English is followed by an "interlude" that discusses some feature, often an anomaly, that is not easily understood in terms of the conventional picture. This is a useful touch, and helps to emphasize the reality that many forms of English have always existed simultaneously, from the various forms spoken by the different Germanic tribes who arrived in England after the middle of the 5th century, right up to the present day.
22 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A wonderful effort 22. November 2005
Von Tim North - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I had the good fortune to stumble across this wonderful book recently, and I found it both entertaining and informative.

As the title suggests, the book tells the various stories by which the English language has come to be what it is today. (It's as much about history and politics as it is about language.)

This isn't the only book to cover these topics, of course, but at 584 pages this is certainly one of the most comprehensive and well researched.

What makes this work so special is that it doesn't just concentrate on the history and character of "standard" English:

Indeed, for every one person who speaks Standard English,

there must be a hundred who do not, and another hundred

who speak other varieties as well as the standard. Where

is their story told? (p. 5)

In this vein, it tells the stories of the rise of British English, American English, Scottish English, creoles, street slang and, most recently, Internet English.

It argues that we're presently in the middle of a period of rapid change and growth of English, and these are among some of its many conclusions (p. 529):

1. Language change is normal and unstoppable, reflecting

the normal and unstoppable processes of social change.

2. Language variation is normal and universal, reflecting

the normal and universal diversity of cultural and social



4. A highly diversified society needs nonstandard varieties

('nonstandard language') to enable groups of people to

express their regional or cultural identity.

I recommend this enjoyable and instructive work to anyone who has an interest in this wonderful and diverse language: English.

(c) 2005 Tim North: [...]
13 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Heavier material a great pleasure here! 16. November 2005
Von nofloyd - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Interested amateur here: I picked this title up because I've always enjoyed popular philology books - such as Bryson's. They left me wanting more and this book does have it.

It includes more examples from the language (Old, Middle English, Early Modern, etc.) than I remember from other popular books.

It was slower going but I loved the detail. I highly reccommend it for those who won't be discouraged after a couple hundred pages to still be in the 14-15th century.
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