Words on Words: Quotations about Language and Languages / Edition 2

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From Homer ("winged words") to Robert Burns ("Beware a tongue that's smoothly hung") to Rudyard Kipling ("Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind"), writers from all over the world have put pen to paper on the inexhaustible topic of language. Yet surprisingly, their writings on the subject have never been gathered in a single volume. In Words on Words, David and Hilary Crystal have collected nearly 5,000 quotations about language and all its intriguing aspects: speaking, reading, writing, translation, verbosity, usage, slang, and more. As the stock-in-trade of so many professions—orators, media personalities, writers, and countless others—language's appeal as a subject is extraordinarily relevant and wide-ranging.

The quotations are grouped thematically under 65 different headings, from "The Nature of Language" through the "Language of Politics" to "Quoting and Misquoting." This arrangement enables the reader to explore a topic through a variety of lenses, ancient and modern, domestic and foreign, scientific and casual, ironic and playful. Three thorough indexes—to authors, sources, and key words—provide different entry points into the collection. A valuable resource for professional writers and scholars, Words on Words is for anyone who loves language and all things linguistic.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226122014
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 587
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David Crystal writes and lectures on language and linguistics. His recent books include The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and The Penguin Dictionary of Language. He is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and a past president of the Society of Indexers.

Hilary Crystal practiced for several years as a speech therapist and has worked editorially on various projects, including The Cambridge Encyclopedia.

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Table of Contents

Introduction VII
1 The Nature of Language: The nature and functions of language 3
2 Language in Thinking and Thought: Thinking and reasoning in relation to speech and language 9
3 Language Myths and Origins: The origins and early history of speech and language 19
4 Body Language: Facial expressions, gestures, and other forms of non-verbal communication 23
5 Meaning and Sense: The nature of meaning, definition, sense, and nonsense 26
6 Words or Deeds: The choice between talk and action, language and living 32
7 Ever-changing Language: Continuity and change in language over time; loan words and neologisms 36
8 Arguing About Usage: Issues of usage and correctness in language 43
9 The Language of Youth and Age: Child language, and the changes between youth and old age 50
10 Language Diversity: The world's languages; language identity, endangerment, maintenance, and death 57
11 Languages Observed: The supposed qualities of different languages 60
12 Bilingualism and Multilingualism: Being proficient in more than one language 66
13 Translating and Interpreting: The task of translation and interpreting 70
14 Teaching and Learning: Principles and practices of language teaching and learning 75
15 Foreigner Talk: Impressions of foreign languages; speech by and to foreigners 80
Analysing Language
16 Exposing Language: Terms and techniques for analysing language; linguistics and philology 87
17 Speaking: The nature and functions of speech and speaking 93
18 Pronunciation: Speech sounds, vocal organs, and the sound of the voice 97
19 Listening: The nature and functions of listening and hearing 100
20 Reading: The nature and functions of reading and books 103
21 Writing: The nature and functions of writing; techniques of successful writing 107
22 Learning to Read and Write: Literacy; spelling and its reform; writing systems 113
23 Grammar: Grammar, grammars, and points of grammatical usage 116
24 Dictionaries: Dictionaries and lexicographers 125
Good and Bad Language
25 The Nature of Eloquence: Oratory, eloquence, rhetoric, and other forms of good or bad expression 131
26 The Art of Conversation: Conversational topics and strategies 138
27 Subject-matter: Topics, knowledge, opinions, and beliefs as expressed by language 147
28 Language Clear and Unclear: Obscurity, vagueness, imprecision, ambiguity, and other issues of clarity 150
29 Saying Too Much: Verbosity, long-windedness, and other forms of excessive speech or writing 154
30 Saying Just Enough: Brevity, taciturnity, conciseness, and other forms of economy in speech or writing 160
31 Keeping Quiet: The nature and functions of silence and pause 163
32 Friendly Language: Words of comfort, love, apology, gentleness, praise, and tact 168
33 The Language of Flattery: Flattering, smooth, and insincere language 172
34 Unfriendly Language: Speaking or writing sharply; sarcasm, ridicule, anger, insult, and slander 174
35 Quarrels and Arguments: Quarrelling, disputing, arguing, and debating 177
36 Truth and Lies: Telling the truth, lying, secrets, vows, and other promises 179
37 Words, Words, Words: Words in general, their nature and function 187
38 Words Praised: Words and language praised or celebrated 192
39 Words Criticized: Words and language criticized or condemned 197
40 Words as Weapons: Words seen as weapons or ammunition 202
41 Wise and Foolish Talk: Words of Wisdom or advice; words careless or foolish 206
42 Slang: Slang and fashionable language 209
43 Swearing: Swearing, cursing, obscenity, and other exclamatory language 211
44 Worn-out Words: Cliches, platitudes, euphemisms, and other worn-out expressions 215
45 Names and Nicknames: Names and nicknames of people, places, or animals 217
46 Words and Expressions: Individual words and expressions praised or condemned 224
Style, Genre and Variety
47 The Secret of Style: The nature of style in language 231
48 Language in Literature: The use of language in literature and criticism 234
49 Poetic Language: The distinctive language of poetry; the differences between poetry and prose 239
50 Metaphors and Similes: The use of images in speech and writing 246
51 Accents and Dialects: Regional ways of talking, in pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and style 248
52 Noblesse Oblige: Language in society; social class and politeness 253
53 Men and Women: Opinions and attitudes about male and female speech 257
54 Walls of Words: Academic language, and jargon in general 260
55 The Language of Politics: The jargon of politics, diplomacy, the civil service, and public administration 263
56 The Language of Law: Legal terms, personalities, and procedures 266
57 The Language of Religion: Talking to or about God, and other forms of religious language 268
58 The Language of Science: The language used in science and technology 273
59 The Language of the Media: Communication in the press, advertising, radio, and television 275
60 The Performing Arts: The language of theatre, cinema, and mime 278
61 The Musical World: Language in relation to music, opera and song 280
62 Proverbial Wisdom: Proverbs, maxims, epigrams, and other succinct expressions 282
63 Playing with Language: Puns, jokes, anagrams, wit, and other kinds of language play 286
64 Personalities: Linguistically distinctive characters in fact and fiction 289
65 Quoting and Misquoting: The use and abuse of quotations 297
Index of Authors 299
Index of Sources 317
Index of Key Words, Phrases, and Concepts 336
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