Book Review: A Little Book of Language

‘We’ll never get them to notice us if we say ordinary things in an ordinary way…’

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When we think of English being taught in schools it is often literature that comes into our head. Shakespeare, Dickens, poetry. All that stuff. But English Language is perhaps even more prominent and important within the curriculum. The very nature of books about the English Language perhaps make the subject seem a little inaccessible. We are talking non fiction. We are talking about the author being an academic. We are talking about a book that almost certainly won’t feature a dragon. And who on earth can be bothered with that in 2020? Well. As an English teacher I kind of have to be. Luckily, David Crystal is the perfect writer to convey the beauty of the English language, whether that’s to beginners or teachers. Crystal’s writing style is universal.

A Little Book of Language is actually quite a large book of language, but it still only scratches the surface of the English language. That being said, Crystal covers all the building blocks that make the little language house, with the welcome mat and the little skirt thing you get round the side of the bed and all that other house detritus. Speaking of which, my real life book shelf is broken at the moment actually, so that’s annoying. Insight.

Crystal’s book is supposedly for children, although I can’t imagine many children sitting down to read A Little Book of Language by choice. Rather, the subject matter is universal and this is what the makes the book so compelling, so successful. Crystal is able to break language down into bite size chunks and offer examples that everyone can understand. And by everyone, I mean that I understood it and I have a monkey brain.

All in all, A Little Book of Language is absolutely essential for anyone who plans to study or teach language, it would also appeal to those with a passing interest in the subject. In making such a potentially dry subject so interesting, Crystal has achieved something pretty darn difficult. Good on him.

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