By Hook or by Crook: A Journey in Search of English (out of print)
A delightfully discursive, Bill Bryson-esque and personal journey through the groves and the thickets of the English language, by our foremost scholar of the history and structure of the English language. First published 2007. David Crystal has been described as a sort of 'latter day Dr Johnson', a populist linguist who has promoted the study of the English language in an academic and broadcasting career that has so far spanned 40 years and nearly 100 books. Now, in his first book for Harper Press, he has written an engaging travel book of more general appeal. Inspired by W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn and by Bill Bryson's books, he has combined personal reflections, historical allusions and traveller observations to create a mesmerising (and entertaining) narrative account of his encounters with the English language and its speakers throughout the world - from Bangor to Bombay and from Stratford to San Francisco. By Hook or by Crook is an attempt to capture the exploratory, seductive, teasing, tantalising nature of language study. As such, it will appeal to the ever - growing market who like to be entertained as well as instructed.
Praise for 'The Stories of English': 'A marvellous book!for anyone who loves the English language(s) it will be a treasure-house.' Philip Pullman 'Reads like an adventure story. Which, of course, it is.' Roger McGough 'Rejoices in dialects, argots and cants!enlightening -- in a word, excellent.' Sunday Times 'A spirited celebration!Crystal gives the story of English a new plot.' Guardian 'Simply the best introductory history of the English language family that we have. The plan of the book is ingenious, the writing lively, the exposition clear and the scholarly standard uncompromisingly high.' J.M.Coetzee
David Crystal has published over 90 books on the subject of the English language, including two encyclopaedias, 'The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language' and The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language'. His book, 'The Stories of English' (2004) was a bestseller for Penguin. He has lectured in linguistics all his life, first at Bangor, then at Reading and is now Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales. He has also been a consultant, contributor or presenter on many radio and TV series (including 'The Story of English').