How Language Works: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, and Languages Live Or Die

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Overlook Press, 2006 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 500 pages
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"This book is not about music, cookery, or sex. But it is about how we talk about music, cookery, and sex--or, indeed, anything at all." Language is so fundamental to everyday life that we take it for granted. But as linguist Crystal makes clear, language is an extremely powerful tool that defines the human species. Crystal offers general readers a personal tour of the intricate workings of language. He moves effortlessly from big subjects like the origins of languages, how children learn to speak, and how conversation works to subtle but revealing points such as how email differs from both speech and writing in important ways, how language reveals a person's social status, and how we decide whether a word is rude or polite. Broad and deep, but with a light and witty touch, this is a layman's guide to how we communicate with one another.--From publisher description.

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How Language Works: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, and Languages Live or Die

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In 73 short chapters, prolific linguist Crystal (The Shakespeare Miscellany ) distills his knowledge and passion into a "personal account" to introduce a wide variety of topics relating to language ... Read full review


Preface xi
Introducing language 1 How what works? l
How to treat body language 5

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About the author (2006)

David Crystal is the leading authority on language and the best-loved author of books including The Stories of English, Shakespeare's Words, Language and the Internet, Language Death, and, most recently, he entered the lists with The Shakespeare Miscellany. Editor of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and The Penguin Encyclopedia, and a professor of linguistics, he received the Order of the British Empire for his services to the English language.

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