By David Crystal

ISBN-10: 0300155336

ISBN-13: 9780300155334

With a language disappearing each weeks and neologisms arising virtually day-by-day, an realizing of the origins and forex of language hasn't ever appeared extra correct. during this fascinating quantity, a story heritage written explicitly for a tender viewers, professional linguist David Crystal proves why the tale of language merits retelling.

From the 1st phrases of an child to the bizarre smooth dialect of textual content messaging, a bit publication of Language levels largely, revealing language’s myriad intricacies and quirks. In lively type, Crystal sheds gentle at the improvement of detailed linguistic kinds, the origins of imprecise accents, and the hunt for the 1st written be aware. He discusses the plight of endangered languages, in addition to winning instances of linguistic revitalization. even more than a heritage, Crystal’s paintings seems ahead to the way forward for language, exploring the impression of expertise on our daily examining, writing, and speech. via enlightening tables, diagrams, and quizzes, in addition to Crystal’s avuncular and wonderful type, A Little booklet of Language will exhibit the tale of language to be an enthralling story for every age.

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Additional info for A Little Book of Language (Little Histories)

Example text

Most children have quite a high voice. When they’re talking, their vocal folds are vibrating around 300 times a second. Their voices don’t get much lower, but they can certainly get a lot higher, as everyone knows who has heard a group of fans screaming at a pop concert. The vocal folds go into overdrive then! Sometime during the teenage years, the voice ‘breaks’, due to the hormone changes that are taking place in the body. Both boys and girls find their voices getting lower, and with boys the changes are really noticeable.

If the mouth is making the same shape for both sounds, how come we hear them as different? This is where the vocal folds come into play. When we make a [d] sound, the vocal folds are vibrating: it’s a voiced sound. When we make a [t] sound, they’re not: it’s a voiceless sound. The same sort of buzz that we heard when we went [zzzzz] is actually there when we say [d] – only we can’t hear it so much, because the [d] sound is said very quickly, whereas a [z] sound lasts longer. Now it’s possible to see why a baby has such a job learning to pronounce sounds.

You can time it, if you like. Look at a watch and see how many times you breathe in and out in a minute. If you’re resting, it’ll be about 25 times. If you’ve just been running it’ll be twice as many. When we speak, something happens to our breathing. We breathe in quickly and then we let out the air very, very slowly. It might be five or ten seconds before we breathe in again. Some people can speak for quite a long time before needing to breathe in. How much can you say in one breath? Breathe in and start counting slowly: ‘one, two, three …’ You should be able to get up to nine or ten easily.

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A Little Book of Language (Little Histories) by David Crystal

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