By David Crystal

With a language disappearing each weeks and neologisms arising virtually day-by-day, an knowing of the origins and foreign money of language hasn't ever appeared extra correct. during this fascinating quantity, a story heritage written explicitly for a tender viewers, professional linguist David Crystal proves why the tale of language merits retelling.

From the 1st phrases of an little one to the atypical glossy dialect of textual content messaging, a bit ebook of Language levels extensively, revealing language’s myriad intricacies and quirks. In lively style, Crystal sheds gentle at the improvement of targeted linguistic kinds, the origins of vague accents, and the hunt for the 1st written observe. He discusses the plight of endangered languages, in addition to profitable circumstances of linguistic revitalization. even more than a background, Crystal’s paintings seems to be ahead to the way forward for language, exploring the impact of expertise on our daily examining, writing, and speech. via enlightening tables, diagrams, and quizzes, in addition to Crystal’s avuncular and pleasing sort, A Little booklet of Language will demonstrate the tale of language to be a charming story for every age.

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Additional resources for A Little Book of Language (Little Histories)

Example text

We can’t see anything linking the two of us. How does the sound get across the road? It’s carried along by the air. The movements you make with your vocal organs cause vibrations in the air, and these travel across the road as a series of invisible movements called sound waves. The sound waves then enter my ears and activate a network of tiny bones and cells which enable me to hear you. A special nerve called the auditory nerve then sends the waves on to my brain where I recognize the sounds and work out what you’ve said.

Dog,’ she replied. ‘Yes, that’s a dog,’ he said. ’ ‘Yes,’ said Sue. And then she added ‘brown dog’ – making a brave effort to pronounce the new word (which came out as ‘bown’). Let’s analyse this little exchange. It’s a mini-conversation, in five parts. First, dad asked a question, and Sue replied. Dad then agreed – but notice how he did it. He could just have said ‘Yes’, and stopped there. But he didn’t. He took Sue’s little one-word sentence and put it into a bigger sentence of his own: ‘that’s a dog’.

It might be five or ten seconds before we breathe in again. Some people can speak for quite a long time before needing to breathe in. How much can you say in one breath? Breathe in and start counting slowly: ‘one, two, three …’ You should be able to get up to nine or ten easily. If you take a really deep breath, you might get up to 20. So when we speak, we have to do three things. First we have to decide what we want to say. That activity takes place in our brain. Then our brain has to send a message to our lungs to slow down the flow of air.

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