Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left

Overview

The story of battles?both past and present?surrounding English language usage, The Fight for English explores why millions of people feel linguistically inferior. Unhappy with the "zero tolerance" approach to punctuation offered by Lynn Truss's Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, David Crystal offers a view of the subject that is much more balanced. Instead of answering the claims made by other manuals of English usage, Crystal provides an explanation and analysis of the genre as a whole....

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The Fight for English: How language pundits ate, shot, and left

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Overview

The story of battles—both past and present—surrounding English language usage, The Fight for English explores why millions of people feel linguistically inferior. Unhappy with the "zero tolerance" approach to punctuation offered by Lynn Truss's Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, David Crystal offers a view of the subject that is much more balanced. Instead of answering the claims made by other manuals of English usage, Crystal provides an explanation and analysis of the genre as a whole.

Crystal weaves an intricate and engaging account that traces the history of the English language and its development over time. From Anglo-Saxon to Modern English, Crystal addresses why the same language issues that were bothering people 250 years ago are still bothering people today. This is the story of the fight for English usage—the story of the people who tried to shape the language in their own image, but failed generation after generation. In short, they ate, shot, and left.

The Fight for English brings language to life on the page with a witty and engaging writing style. Broadening the perspective on the English language, this compellingly informative book has something for everyone interested in the topic. Move over Harry Potter. Here comes punctuation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Manages to be genial and irascible at the same time...Crystal is fascinating and insightful, often funny."—Patricia T. O'Conner, New York Times Book Review

"This volume is an excellent introductory essay on the development of the English language through the ages and on the rise of the prescriptivist movement, which is still very much alive. For both readers who consider themselves prescriptivists and those who consider themselves permissivists, this book will provide a quick lesson on why neither extreme makes sense, either historically or functionally. Crystal looks ahead to a more balanced view of English as an evolving and rich tool for communication."—Technical Communication

"This engaging book encourages one to make appropriateness rather than correctness the cornerstone of usage—and along the way offers fascinating bits of linguistic history. It belongs on the shelf next to [Lynne] Truss's book....Essential. All readers; all levels."—CHOICE

School Library Journal

Adult/High School
Crystal, a British linguist, may be a stranger to American teens, but many will delight in making his acquaintance through this book of short, punchy essays. Inspired by the popularity of fellow radio-personality Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots, and Leaves [Penguin, 2004]), he makes his own argument for English as flexible, rather than needing careful preservation. Where Truss has "zero tolerance" for those who would trespass on the language's rules of order, Crystal delights in showing how purists and pundits, to say nothing of simply unconscious communicators, have shaped and reshaped English across more than a thousand years. The language as it is spoken nearest London gained favor in the eyes of snobs and academia alike. However, as the author cogently points out, there is nothing intrinsically more valuable about how one speaker communicates thoughts, feelings, and ideas over how his neighbor to the north or across the ocean designs her pronunciation or phrasing. Teens will especially enjoy the discussions of spelling (which include texting's orthographic changes) and the childish rancor with which historical personages presumed airs when speaking ill of the way Shakespeare used the language. This compendium is a treasure trove for students of political and social history, and for those who simply enjoy language's quirks. The brevity of the essays-coupled with their high quality-provides excellent and accessible models for those in need of inspiration to write their own nonfiction.
—Francisca GoldsmithCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199207640
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/3/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,298,405
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

David Crystal is the foremost writer and lecturer on the English language, with a world-wide reputation and over 100 books to his name. He is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and has been awarded an OBE for services to the English Language.

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Table of Contents

1. Beginnings

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