Quick review: How Language Works

  • Sumo

How Language WorksHow Language Works by David Crystal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An enjoyable overview of linguistics. Crystal’s 73 chapters can be read consecutively, or – he claims – dipped into at random. Each chapter is a short introduction to one topic. For example, ‘How vocabulary grows’ or ‘How to study dialects’. Since each is only five pages or so, you know not to expect too much – it’s an orientation to the topic.

Towards the end of the book (unless you randomly start there, of course), Crystal shows his great desire in writing: to encourage more interest in and concern for language. (That’s definitely language as a whole, rather than languages individually.) For him, language and all aspects of its study are eminent in grasping human culture’s richness. I think he’s right to be such a proponenet of linguistic study, of respect for language.

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