By Hook or by Crook: A Journey in Search of English

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9780007235575: By Hook or by Crook: A Journey in Search of English

After Overlook's amazing success with The Stories of English and How Language Works, David Crystal has been described by the Times Higher Education Supplement as a "latter-day Samuel Johnson." Now, in a delightfully discursive journey through the groves and thickets of the English language, Crystal sets off again, combining personal reflections, historical allusions, and traveler's observations to create a mesmerizing and entertaining narrative account of his encounters with the language and its speakers.

Starting in his home of Wales and moving from England all the way to Poland and off to San Francisco, Crystal encounters numerous linguistic side roads that he cannot resist exploring. All are subject to Crystal's inquisitive exploration--from pubs to trains to Tolkien--and each digression casts new light on the development of English as it is spoken today.

By Hook or By Crook is a linguistic travelogue like no other, and an attempt to capture the seductive, quirky, teasing, tantalizing nature of the language itself--a jaunty Bill Bryson-esque exploration of language by a foremost expert on the subject.

Already, the Independent has said that "those who love wordplay will be grateful. . . . At once chatty and sonorous, Crystal . . . ties place to subject and everything to words, their origins, habits and idiosyncrasies;" and the Financial Times says that "every page of Crystal's book contains some linguistic curiosity or flight of fancy." Crystal has been lauded widely, from academics to bloggers and all sorts of readers in between, and in By Hook or By Crook, Crystal has given us a book that will reach out and grab hold of the mind of every reader.

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About the Author:

David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and the editor of The Penguin Encyclopedia.

 

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* Crystal has been dubbed a latter-day Samuel Johnson, and with good reason, as evidenced by the long list of academic studies penned by the distinguished linguist, among them, How Language Works (2006). However, it is Professor Henry Higgins, popularized on stage and screen, that he most often cites in this delightful book, which is part travelogue, part memoir, and part meditation on the intellectual and emotional underpinnings of language. Hired to work on a BBC project celebrating the range of present-day British English accents and dialects, he took off for a series of ports of call throughout Wales and other parts of the UK. His encounters with the locals, described with exceptionally dry humor and an eye for the entertaining detail, are often priceless. So it is that he ends up in a discussion with a farmer on the difference in bleats between Scottish and Welsh sheep, or is greeted with much pity by shopkeepers in Portmeirion, the location for the 1960s cult TV program The Prisoner, when he can’t resist parroting phrases from the show. What is most seductive about Crystal’s narrative, though, is the fascinating glimpse it provides into the quicksilver mind of a man who is so knowledgeable and yet still so curious about our mercurial language. --Joanne Wilkinson

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