Book of the week : The Stories of English

11th June 2004 at 01:00
The Stories of English
By David Crystal
Penguin pound;25

The recent success of Lynne Truss's book on punctuation, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, has shown that there is an eager market for reflections on the state of the English language. Could it be as mega (to use a modern coinage) for David Crystal's authoritative book on the varieties of the language?

Professor of linguistics, author of more than 90 books, sometime contributor to The TES among many newspapers and journals, Crystal has laid out a history that elucidates how "standard" English is interwoven with colloquial dialects, legal and literary offshoots, foreign incomings and authorial coinages.

Its main thesis is simply told: the usual run of linguistic history which tells of the victory of "received" English throughout the tribulations of social and political events, and upholds a particular version of English as correct, is not just skewed but wrong. It is made Crystal clear that not only has there never been only one thread of descent from Anglo-Saxon to Norman to French to early modern and so on, but that it wouldn't be desirable if there had been.

Read more in this week's TES Friday magazine

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today