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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  650 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language is one of the publishing phenomena of recent times. Rarely has a book so packed with accurate and well researched factual information been so widely read and popularly acclaimed. It has played a key role in the spread of general interest in language matters, generating further publications and broadcasting events for an av ...more
Paperback, 2nd edition, 499 pages
Published August 4th 2003 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1987)
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Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Jim Peterson
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
(I wrote this review at work for learners of English, so I thought I'd add it here too.)

Organized by topic and full of interesting images and diagrams, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language is exactly what your coffee table has been missing. Most topics are covered in just two pages, so they can be read in small bits. You can really open it up to any page and find something interesting. Due to its value for occasional engaging reading, I would recommend it for intermediate learners
Peter dohan
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am dipping into the 1993 hardback edition; it is not a book to read through cover to cover. open any page and be amazed. it is an unusually well-crafted book - a treasure trove, indeed, with pieces of eight on every page. I am heading to the far east soon and will read it every night till then. not plane carry on material unfortunately. peter
Feb 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Dec 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: English majors; lovers of etymology
Shelves: reviewed
Great resource and very well-written. I could actually see myself revisiting this down the road. Crystal's book is exhaustive and engaging.
Matthew Jarman
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I have ever read.
Trevor Kew
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: language, history, kew-nf
Everything you ever wanted to know about English, written in witty, accurate and clear prose by language genius David Crystal. Don't let the title put you's a fascinating read!
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was my go-to Encyclopedia for years.
Jack Pyke
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's by Crystal, of course it's goooood ref material.
The Wanderer
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This dense behemoth has small print and not a lot of white space. It took me a year, off-and-on to get all the way through it. It was a year well-spent. This will be a book that I never get rid of.

Apart from the fact that it is packed chock-full of a massive array of interesting language tidbits, discussions, and examples, I enjoyed Crystal's voice. He was present as the author, without being overpowering. I laughed at the dry sense of humour which occasionally slipped into the otherwise factual
Alba FV
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english-language

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
Katya Epstein
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: language-related
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
Steve Cox
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great 'dippy' book; one you can happily dip into, confident of finding interesting nuggets about the English language. It includes sections on the history, vocabulary and grammar of English, as you would expect, but it also discusses the many variations of modern English used around the world and even has sections on the way children learn English from infancy. A marvellous resource to have and keep as a reference.
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent encyclopedia on the English language from all the angles one can imagine, with plenty of diagrams, images, and quotes from a plethora of sources. Now slightly outdated when it comes to the digital use and form of English.
Jun 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic
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.
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
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!).
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: college, non-fiction
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! :)
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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
May 10, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Sep 26, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: ling-owned
Fun book for laypeople, a lot of English history. Nice supplementary material for intro ling courses.
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
exellent book
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Brilliant reference book for those taking language modules
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: study
A great general insight in the development and structure of the English language.
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the many reasons why to adore the genius of David Crystal.
Richard Thomas
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-usage
A fascinating reference book. It's both learned and accessible and essential for anyone who wishes an understanding of English in all its forms
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Very insightful, language, words, and it's usage are fascinating!
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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
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