- Gebundene Ausgabe: 424 Seiten
- Verlag: Oxford University Press (1. November 2013)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0199668124
- ISBN-13: 978-0199668120
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 24,9 x 2,5 x 17,5 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 196.141 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
- Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen
Wordsmiths and Warriors (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 1. November 2013
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"A delightful romp through the English countryside." --Sun News Miami
"A delightful romp through the English countryside." --Sun News Miami
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Hilary Crystal trained as a speech therapist, worked for a while in clinical linguistic research, then became a sub-editor for the various volumes in the Cambridge and Penguin families of encyclopedias. She has designed several books, notably the anthologies of the poetry of John Bradburne edited by David.
David Crystal is known throughout the world as a writer, editor, lecturer and broadcaster on language. He has published extensively on the history and development of English, including The Stories of English (2004), Evolving English (2010), Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language (2010), The Story of English in 100 Words (2011), and Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling (2012).
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Each of the book's 57 chapters are named for the geographical locations they feature and are copiously illustrated, mostly with photographs taken by Hilary Crystal herself during a tour undertaken by the couple in 2012. Each of the chapters also ends with a short summary of travel instructions to tell anyone wishing to follow in their footsteps how to get there. One could therefore be forgiven for thinking that this book is essentially a guidebook dedicated to tales of places. Sadly, it isn't. Or, at least, if it is, it serves poorly as one.
The first hint that the book isn't really a tourist's guidebook comes in its organisation. Chapters (and therefore locations) are ordered by the chronology of significant occurrence (or earliest significant occurrence for those few locations which have multiple claims to fame) rather than by region. One can understand the logic for this arrangement -- it allows the text to carry a coherent narrative thread of linguistic progression from one chapter to the next. It doesn't greatly assist with the putting together of any English-language tour of one's own, however. It also undermines the book's stated purpose of providing a sense of place, because the endless hopping around the country from chapter to chapter is utterly disorienting. In addition, the book is actually concerned with recounting details of the actions of people most of whom simply happened to be in the featured location at the time. This puts the spotlight of the book firmly on people not places; only rarely does the linguistic importance of these individuals derive from or even connect to their geographic location.
The book's second failure as a guidebook is its complete lack of maps other than a schematic spot-map of featured locations in the frontispiece. Directions for visiting the sites are given only as written instructions and largely assume that the visitor will be travelling by car. Any successful guidebook writer will tell you that this is a recipe for disaster. Written instructions are wide open to misinterpretation and misunderstanding, can go out of date quickly (but without this being obvious to the hapless soul trying to follow them) and inevitably fail to cover all of the bases ("so, how do I get there by bike from my campsite 7 miles away?") The authors have thought to provide some satellite navigation information to augment their words, but even here their choice is poor, by providing postcodes exclusively for the specifying of destination. Postcodes are comparatively wide area codes, prone to change without notice in some areas and mainly aimed at indicated location of mail delivery locations (houses and businesses). They are hopeless in many rural areas, especially in directing people to locations without postal addresses such as ruins, hilltops and monuments. Lat/long coordinates are usually to be preferred and I cannot understand why the authors didn't opt for these instead of postcodes, especially given the number of times that by their own admission their own satnav system led them astray when using them. And why, oh why, does each chapter not feature a map showing the location of the site in its local context?
As a test of how serious this particular short-coming of the book might actually be in reality, my wife and I decided to visit one of the locations described in the book -- Areley Kings, near Stourport-on-Severn, featured in Chapter 15. This interesting sounding location was entirely unfamiliar to us and didn't involve a long trip for us. We found that we came unstuck very quickly indeed, largely owing to the fact that there is something seriously awry with the use of the points of the compass in this chapter. The book describes the cliff which houses the caves of the Redstone Hermitage at Areley Kings as being "on the north bank of the River Severn" and we are told that "we had to walk along the north bank to see it clearly". Now, the River Severn flows roughly north to south throughout its length, although it is heading in a more or less south-easterly direction between Areley Kings and Stourport-on-Severn. We therefore had difficulty deciding what the "north bank" might be, given that the river is usually described as having west and east banks, rather than north and south. It seemed feasible, though, that someone standing on Stourport Bridge (where we were directed to begin our walk) might regard the bank at its north-eastern end as being the "north bank" of the river. Fortunately, we had the foresight to look up the location of the caves on an OS map (they don't appear on many other maps) before taking the footpath along this bank, for it would not have taken us to the caves whichever direction we'd followed it (the book offering no guidance on that particular choice.) The caves are to be found on the other bank -- the western one by most reckonings. The mistake here isn't down to a simple printing error, either; all of the authors' compass directions in this chapter are in error. It doesn't help either that the caves do not overlook the river, as the book says they do: the cliff lies at an angle to the flow of the river, on what actually used to be the south bank of the river at this point. Confused? We certainly were. I suppose it is too much to ask for language experts ever to accept that words sometimes do, in fact, suffer from limitations best overcome with a simple diagram but this must surely be a strong argument for the addition of maps should this book ever go to a second edition. In the meantime, I strongly recommend that anyone intending to visit any of the locations in this book equip themselves with appropriate maps before setting out.
As a guidebook to places, the book is also let down by the reproduction quality of the photographs that it contains. There is something of an apology for this in the book's introduction by the photographer herself, with David adding that it wasn't the fault of the photographer or her equipment but rather the poor quality of the British summer of 2012 that so many of them do not show locations at their best but instead fully capture the way things were when the couple visited. For me, this once again indicates that the book is not so much as a guidebook as a personal travelogue; a feeling brought more sharply into focus by the text itself which, whilst being hung on the framework of an exposition of place is constructed entirely as an historical survey of significant people. It is personalities that leap off these pages, rather than locations. The pictures then become nothing but a decorative wrapping and, I am sorry to say, technically poor ones at that.
As a time-line and survey of important men (only two women are featured in the whole book) who have made the English language what it is today, this book is probably without parallel. But as a guide to the locations associated with them and their endeavours, it falls very flat indeed. This may not be entirely the authors' fault; it may just be that physical location only rarely connects with linguistic achievement. In fact, if anything, I suspect that this book goes a long way towards making this very point.
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