The Story of English in 100 Words

Customer Reviews

107 Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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5 out of 5 stars
By Margaret on 10-18-11


This is a book written and read by a man with an obvious and very endearing love for his subject. Unlike sime authors' readings of their own books, this is a real delight. Giggling, nay, laughing out loud on the Tube, I have now renewed my acquaintance with some words and been neatly introduced to others. I loved this and would highly recommend it, finding not only, as the author says, that I can see the trees but the woods as well. I think he has achieved his object.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Elizabeth on 06-30-13

Surprisingly fun!

Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed this book, which surprised me. I often get bored quite quickly with non-fiction, finding it harder to stick with than fiction. This book doesn't allow the material to get dry though. It is the sort of book you can dip in and out of because the chapters are quite short and focus on one word at a time. David Crystal's narrative is almost conversational in tone, he just wants to tell you some interesting and fun things about each word, and then moves on. He throws in a few rude words, and a few modern hybrid words, like chillax, to show some of the interesting and strange things that words can do, but my favourite was bone-house. This book probably has nothing new to tell linguists, but is still told in such an enjoyable way that perhaps even those who have nothing to learn from this book could still find enjoyment from hearing David Crystal talk about them.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Mr David Newton on 12-25-12

Interesting - most of the time

David Crystal is without doubt THE expert in the English language and his academic work in the field provides the main textbooks for many linguistic courses.

His academic confidence means that he has the ability to read his own work well and in an interested manner. His delight in the language means that he is open to words entering the language from many places and celebrates those which arise form slang or text with the same delight, or perhaps even more pleasure, as those which came from Latin or Germanic sources. He even seems to take pleasure in the variety of common spellings, as if taking a gentle swipe at the purists who claim theirs is the 'correct' use.

The only hesitation I have is that the book is a list. He takes words in chronological order of their entry into the language and I am sure that works well in the written form. But in audio there is a problem for me. I find that my attention can drift and if that happens when he is moving from one word to another I can get a little lost.

Although I am an enthusiastic audio listener this is perhaps better on the eye than the ear.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Iain on 04-13-13

Expert English

Professor David Crystal is, without doubt, the English language expert. This tour of 100 English words is at times illuminating, humorous and extraordinarily well informed. He takes the listener through a semi-chronological tour of words to illustrate various linguistic points of interest. Where this audiobook excels is in the fact that it is in the authors own voice, helping to bridge the awkward 'how is this word pronounced' gap experienced in written texts. An excellent and fun book and highly recommended.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Zen Kite on 03-05-15

The Story of English

An excellent book, full of warmth, wit and erudition. David Crystal is a master of his subject and a great narrator.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Radioactive tea on 02-09-15

David Crystal is the best

A brilliant book, wonderfully executed. I love his authoritative, but never patronising, tone. it made me smile every time I got into the car and excitedly told friends and family some of the words I learned about.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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