How Languages Work by David Crystal

I know this isn’t necessarily about Hebrew but learning more about all languages and linguistics can really enhance someones understanding and appreciation of studying Hebrew.

I’m happy that this was one of my first introductions to Linguistics.  It’s fun to read and relatively non-technical but by no means lacking in serious content.  It’s also written by a trained linguist, not a pop non-fiction author.  Topics are covered in both a factual and anecdotal way. It’s an excellent comprehensive introduction for people interested in languages regardless of their background.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that this book is a mass paperback; it’s by no means lacking content.  Crystal covers every major aspect of linguistics from production of language, written language, structure, dialects, language acquisition and more.  At 484 pages one might expect to find more of a technical tome but Crystal’s style makes you feel like you’re being guided into the world of languages by a knowledgeable and personal Oxford professor.  How Languages Work has an impressive breadth of coverage and amount of terms introduced.  At times it’s surprising the detail covered without a loss clarity and readability.

There are two small minor imperfections that should be noted, but aren’t significant enough to prevent someone from buying this book.  One is the use of British pronunciation that can be confusing in some instances by people who aren’t familiar with RP (Received Pronunciation).   In fact, the publisher makes note of the use of British spelling and style.   Secondly, terms are introduced in italics throughout the book but in a few instances the exact definition of italicized word aren’t clear.

If you’re looking for a solid introduction to the study languages don’t overlook David Crystals How Languages work.  I highly recommend this title.

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