The Fight for English

The Fight for English

How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left

Book - 2006
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Baker & Taylor
Combining a chronological survey of key influences in the area of usage with discussion of such themes as punctuation, spelling, and pronunciation, tells the story of the battles surrounding English usage.

Tells the story of the battles surrounding English usage. This book combines a chronological survey of key influences in the area of usage with discussion of particular themes such as punctuation, spelling, and pronunciation.

Book News
A high maven of the English language, Crystal (honorary linguistics, U. Wales-Bangor) is not concerned about English-only movements in the US. Rather he tells the story of a group of people who tried to shape the language in their own image and, generation after generation, failed. The pattern has repeated for centuries, he demonstrates, and continues today, though at a lower volume. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Oxford University Press
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'sEats, 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.

Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2006
ISBN: 9780199207640
Characteristics: xi, 239 p. ; 20 cm


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Nov 10, 2018

The clarity of the writing, the friendliness of the explanations, and the perfect organization - marrying chronological development and analytical divisions - make this another terrific book on English by Crystal. His case for the pluralistic view is made strongly but softly, but unfortunately not elaborated on much (what does he recommend about what sort of language to use in each context? how does one recognize which context is which, and what conventions are the appropriate ones? These are issues of pragmatics, the contours of which are constantly being negotiated - but that doesn't mean that it is appropriate to challenge them at all opportunities to do so). His undressing of the tactics of language pundits would be most helpful to everyone learning English (finickyness is the common characteristic of English teachers).


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