The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language

4.36 of 5 stars 4.36  ·  rating details  ·  374 ratings  ·  26 reviews
This celebrated book offers a unique experience of the English language in all its richness and diversity. Clear and accessible, it abounds with insights into how the language evolved and how it works. Superbly illustrated in color throughout, and updated for this first paperback edition, "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language" is the most comprehensive genera...more
Hardcover, 489 pages
Published May 26th 1995 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1987)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Be the first to ask a question about The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 934)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Patricia
Wow.

A history of English, as it is spoken, written, taught, and learned.

Many, many maps, illustrations, references, sidebars, and photographs are included in this wonderful encyclopedia. The scope and breadth of this work includes examples of English literature from Beowulf, Chaucer, Hamlet, and The Cat in the Hat. There are studies of accents and pronunciations, Scandinavian place names in the English speaking world, how English grammar evolved from that of a quasi-Saxon tongue into a blend of...more
Wayne
Oct 06, 2011 Wayne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who speaks, reads or thinks
Recommended to Wayne by: the English Tongue,
This is not the type of book you have to read from cover to cover.It's one of those you just wade through in whatever direction you like as well as using it for specific references.
In other words it's a treasure chest of goodies...amusing, enlightening, absorbing and satisfying.

I recall David Crystal talking about a competition they had run for someone to create a 'new' word.
They awarded it to the entry 'BAGONIZE' which means the feeling you have at the airport when you are anxiously waiting for...more
Alba
Hello,

I am 17 and I'm a Spanish student who aims to study English Literature at University.

I've always asked myself things like: "What are the English accents like?; What does this English name come from?; How much did French language influenced over the English language?; Where could I find anything about the Old English literature (for instance: documents, songs, words...)? [...]"

What I didn't know was that it does exist an encyclopedia of such things!!!!

Although I'm Spanish, I think I woul...more
Ceridwen
Dec 17, 2007 Ceridwen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in language
As linguistics books go, this is a fascinating read. Very informative, interesting and surprisingly funny. And if you ever have the chance of visiting one of Mr. Crystal's lectures, do it. I hear he regularly has the audience rolling in the aisles.
Matthew Jarman
One of the best books I have ever read.
Katya Epstein
I adore this book. If you love the English language, you will love this book. I know it's a hackneyed phrase, but this really is a treasure trove. I have seen my friends' eyes light up as they leaf through it. Everything you might want to know about English, written in clear and charming language, by a true linguist. David Crystal is not just some journalist with a list of clever etymologies or a self-appointed punctuation maven. He manages to cover an enormous breadth of topics with surprising...more
Cecily
A superb reference book covering all aspects of the development of the English language, its vocabulary, usage, orthography, spelling, variants, punctuation etc.

David Crystal wears his expertise lightly, which makes the book a delight to use and very accessible, with lots of illustrations, diagrams, photos and examples. There are also appendices and lists for further reading.

In general, Crystal is a pragmatist who loves language; he is certainly not an authoritarian pedant. He accepts and explai...more
Erin
Purchased this book to use as a reference book for my Sociolinguistics class and kept it because it is a great book for writers as well. Sometimes if I need to jumpstart myself to write I pull this book out, flip to a random page and make myself write a poem or something about whatever is on that page. Very useful as an academic resource AND a creative resource.
Rachel
Jan 05, 2008 Rachel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: word nerds and grammar geeks
Read (and I'm using the word "read" pretty loosely here) this for the class I'm auditing, "The English Language." I'm delighted by how engaging it is--best written reference book I've read, actually (I'm looking at you, The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics!).
Kelly
This book is great for anyone interested in the history of the English language but who doesn't want to wade through the pages of more dense and esoteric texts. This book narrows it down to the key ideas and provides the reader with loads of fun facts and lots of pictures! :)
Uticensis
This is a ridiculously good book. Packed with information on the English language to the gills, and it's not the one bit dry at all. The author seamlessly weaves in contemporary trends with linguistic research. Anyone lover of English must buy this book.
Fiona Ranson
This is an amazing reference book, which will not be read as a reference book but cover to cover- it's packed of 'read out loud facts'.
Jeffrey
Don't know much about the English language? Here's your chance to negate that problem. Here we go back in time to middled English, old English and beyond. Way back to the Jutes, Angles, Saxons . . . So get your reading fedora out.
Hilary
Interesting, as textbooks go. There was a lot of information, and it made a perfect "browse" book, but overall, since I couldn't read it cover to cover I wasn't that into it. Good though for ideas for academic papers.
Elaine Balliet
Bye bye History of the English Language! Recommended for everyone who desires to learn more about the origins of their roots, and English. Great info on the Anglo-Saxons included throughout this informative study.
Amanda
Dec 05, 2013 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: language enthusiasts; English teachers
Shelves: nonfiction
"The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language" is a wonderful look into the history, makeup, and use of the English language. Very readable and fun. Well done!
Amber
This was my go-to Encyclopedia for years.
Mo
My knowledge of linguistics owes to this book!Not only is David Crystal a great linguist ,but also he is a promising artist.
Mike
Fun book for laypeople, a lot of English history. Nice supplementary material for intro ling courses.
Alek
To me, the well researched information on language matters makes the book unputdownable.
Jim Bouchard
I didn't realize I didn't really speak English until I read this!
Habibah
Brilliant reference book for those taking language modules
Jack Pyke
It's by Crystal, of course it's goooood ref material.
Sarah
Excellent resource with great visuals.
Colleen
very helpful; clever details
Mohamed Adel
Mohamed Adel marked it as to-read
Sep 12, 2014
Wonglokyan
Wonglokyan marked it as to-read
Sep 11, 2014
Sania
Sania marked it as to-read
Sep 11, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 31 32 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (Reference Books)
  • The King's English: A Guide to Modern Usage
  • A Dictionary of Modern English Usage
  • The Story of English
  • Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction
  • The Study of Language
  • Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English
  • English Phonetics and Phonology
  • A Guide to Old English
  • Dictionary of Word Origins: Histories of More Than 8,000 English-Language Words
  • Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language
  • Practical English Usage
  • Serendipities: Language and Lunacy
  • The English Language: A Historical Introduction
  • An Introduction to Language
  • The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory
  • The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
  • The Elephants of Style: A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English
18265
David Crystal works from his home in Holyhead, North Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster. Born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland in 1941, he spent his early years in Holyhead. His family moved to Liverpool in 1951, and he received his secondary schooling at St Mary's College. He read English at University College London (1959-62), specialised in English language studies, did some rese...more
More about David Crystal...
The Story of English in 100 Words The Stories of English A Little Book of Language How Language Works: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, and Languages Live or Die The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language

Share This Book

“There is little scientific data on the point, but evidently people do speak to themselves.” 3 likes
More quotes…