Spell it Out: The Story of English Spelling

Spell it Out: The Story of English Spelling

Hardback

By (author) David Crystal

List price $20.29

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  • Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
  • Format: Hardback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 138mm x 204mm x 32mm | 450g
  • Publication date: 6 September 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1846685672
  • ISBN 13: 9781846685675
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations, ports.
  • Sales rank: 30,259

Product description

This is an enlightening tour of English spelling that untangles 'stationery' from 'stationary' - and explains why the 'i before e except after c' rule is so misleading. Why is there an 'h' in ghost? William Caxton, inventor of the printing press and his Flemish employees are to blame: without a dictionary or style guide to hand in fifteenth century Bruges, the typesetters simply spelled it the way it sounded to the foreign ears, and it stuck. Seventy-five per cent of English spelling is regular but twenty-five per cent is complicated, and in "Spell It Out", our foremost linguistics expert David Crystal extends a helping hand to the confused and curious alike. He unearths the stories behind the rogue words that confound us, and explains why these peculiarities entered the mainstream, in an epic journey taking in sixth century monks, French and Latin upstarts, the Industrial Revolution and the internet. By learning the history and the principles, Crystal shows how the spellings that break all the rules become easier to get right.

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Author information

David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. He has written many books and articles in fields ranging from forensic linguistics and ELT to the liturgy and Shakespeare. He is the author of The Story of English in 100 Words [9781846684272], published by Profile, and How Language Works.

Review quote

"'Crystal's book is full of distractions and delights' (Daily Express)"