Just A Phrase I'm Going Through: My Life in Language / Edition 1

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Kidnapping, attempted assassination, espionage…not the answers you’d expect to the question ‘what happens when you become a linguist?’

But now, reflecting on a long and hugely successful career at the forefront of the field of English Language and Linguistics, David Crystal answers this question and offers us a special look behind the scenes at the adventures, rewards, challenges and pitfalls of his life in language.

Both an autobiography and a highly accessible introduction to the field of linguistics, Just a Phrase I’m Going Through illuminates and entertains us with its many insights into the ever-fascinating subject of language.

David Crystal is synonymous with language, both as a great populariser and linguistic pioneer, and his contribution to the field is unparalleled. This audio book is not just for students and teachers but for all lovers of language.

4 discs. Running time: 5 hours approx. Abridged.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Prolific linguist Crystal tells more than his own story, remarkable for his role as an independent scholar. Infused with the title's humor and suspense, Crystal's narratives also sketch his field. The stories answer both professional and personal questions, such as, for example, What is a linguist? What do linguists do? What kind of linguist are you? What prepared you for and drew you to the field? How many languages do you speak? What is your family background? And why do you wear a beard? Chronological organization of 19 chapters spreads topics like family life over many chapters. Crystal embraces this storytelling challenge to mingle professional anecdotes with family experiences. He gradually reveals heritage bridging Northern Ireland, North Wales, Liverpool, London, Catholicism, and Judaism. For example, Chapter 17 describes an emotional encounter with his father and also a piece on choosing how to refer to the former Soviet Union in late 1991 as an encyclopedia editor. VERDICT A unique, lengthy, and substantial autobiography, this is recommended for academics and memoir fanatics.—Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL
From the Publisher
'David Crystal loves and appreciates every word he speaks, and every word written in this book helps us to understand someone who is not just a great linguist, but a true champion and lover of language.'Benjamin Zephaniah

'This memoir is enjoyable for many reasons. David Crystal's writings on linguistics have covered a wide range, and never fail to be readable and full of fascination for the general reader... it is a clear and modest account of a good and useful life.' – Philip Pullman

'Just A Phrase I'm Going Through is an engaging, can’t-put-it down hybrid of autobiography, suspense, humour, scientific writing, narrative, and even a bit of trivia. As an introductory linguistics text or leisure reading selection, it addresses the kinds of language-based questions that emerge literally everywhere and that pique the curiosity of linguists and non-linguists alike—transmitted to us through the wonderful wit, style, and personal perspective of David Crystal.' – Susan Strauss, Pennsylvania State University, USA

‘David Crystal, the UK’s Linguist-at-Large, starts his autobiography Just a Phrase I’m Going Through right off in Chapter 1 by summing up what it means to be a linguist. He does such a good job that every linguist in the world will go yessing through this chapter, and copy it on the sly to pass out to their students who ask what linguistics is really all about.' – John Lawler, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

'David Crystal has a magic narrative touch. His talent is to make the sometimes abstruse subject matter of linguistics relevant to everybody’s lives. Now he shows how the study of language has played out in his own life. In this captivating professional autobiography he intertwines linguistic insights with his own personal and professional story, demonstrating what he has always told us so eloquently: that neither life nor language can be understood without the other.'Guy Cook, The Open University, UK

'The book is a delight to read. It’s beautifully written, witty, entertaining and profoundly reflective on matters of language and life. If anyone needs persuading how and why language is central to our lives and can be both serious and fun, it is here.'Ronald Carter, University of Nottingham, UK

'Far from being a dusty academic trawl,[this] is a vigorous and diverting account of a singular life.'Manchester Evening News, 30th May 2009

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415547901
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 4/21/2009
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 4
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 5.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David Crystal received an OBE for services to the English language in 1995, and was made a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2000. He is patron of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) and the Association for Language Learning (ALL). Having published over 100 books, covering a diversity of language topics, his most recent publications include Txtng: the gr8 db8 (2008) and Thinking on my Words: Exploring Shakespeare’s Language (2008). He has been a freelance writer, lecturer, and broadcaster since 1984 and continues his work with language from his home in Holyhead, North Wales.

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Table of Contents

Contents Prologue 1 Being a linguist 2 A semilingual start 3 New worlds 4 Liverpool school 5 Extra-curricular acts 6 Learning, and not learning, about language 7 Becoming academic 8 Surveying 9 Worlds within worlds 10 Becoming professional 11 The sexy subject 12 Meeting a need 13 Choices and consequences 14 Meetings and meetings 15 Looking for remedies 16 Why did you resign? 17 The encyclopedia game 18 Schizoid man 19 Busyness and business Epilogue

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