Cover image for The Cambridge encyclopedia of the English language
The Cambridge encyclopedia of the English language
Crystal, David, 1941-
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Physical Description:
vii, 499 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), color maps ; 29 cm
General Note:
Reprint 2004.
Modelling English -- The origins of English -- Old English -- Middle English -- Early modern English -- Modern English -- World English -- The nature of the lexicon -- The sources of the lexicon -- Etymology -- The structure of the lexicon -- Lexical dimensions -- Grammatical mythology -- The structure of words -- Word classes -- The structure of sentences -- The sound system -- The writing system -- Varieties of discourse -- Regional variation -- Social variation -- Personal variation -- Learning English as a mother tongue -- New ways of studying English.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PE1072 .C68 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language is one of the publishing phenomena of recent times. Rarely has a book so packed with accurate and well researched factual information been so widely read and popularly acclaimed. It has played a key role in the spread of general interest in language matters, generating further publications and broadcasting events for an avid audience. Its First Edition appeared in hardback in 1995 and a revised paperback in 1997. There have been numerous subsequent updated reprintings; but this second edition now presents an overhaul of the subject for a new generation of language-lovers and of teachers, students and professional English-users concerned with their own linguistic legacy. The length of the book has been extended and there are 44 new illustrations, extensive new material on world English and Internet English, and a complete updating of statistics, further reading suggestions and other references.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This attractive resource is organized thematically in segments covering the history of the English language (Old English, Middle English, Modern English, English in different parts of the world); English vocabulary (its nature, structure, sources, etymology, and the dimensions of the lexicon); English grammar (structure of words and sentences, definitions of the main branches of grammar); spoken and written English; English usage (varieties of discourse and regional, social, and personal usage variations); and how people learn English and new ways to study English. Appendixes include a glossary, a list of symbols and abbreviations, references and addresses, further readings, and indexes of names, items, and topics. Crystal, a linguist, is the compiler of many reference books published by Cambridge, for example, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (1987). Throughout the book (which focuses on British English, not American English), readers will find liberal use of color in the many charts, illustrations, reprints of pages from historically significant works, maps, and photographs. The author does not shrink from exploring and delivering opinions on controversial topics such as the "opaque inspecific, or empty" language of politics and the dangers of "political correctness." Each segment can be read as if it were the only section of the book, or, the work can be read cover to cover so that a cumulative effect is achieved. The only comparable resource that provides the same type of broad-ranging coverage in one volume is The Oxford Companion to the English Language [RBB O 15 92]. That work is arranged alphabetically within 22 themes (e.g., geography, history, media) and provides "an interim report on the nature and use of the English language" in all nations that speak English. The two works complement each other; Cambridge provides historical perspective and Oxford a snapshot of current English. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language lives up to the reputation of other resources published under the Cambridge imprint and will make an excellent addition to the collections of large public libraries and all academic libraries. (Reviewed July 1995)

Library Journal Review

Crystal, an author, lecturer, and BBC broadcaster on language, here approaches English with the same combination of scholarly seriousness and inviting visual presentation that made his Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (LJ 5/1/88) so successful. This large, lively, and lavishly illustrated volume is divided into six broad topics that cover the English language's history, vocabulary, grammar, writing and speech systems, usage, and acquisition. Within these major topics, the book is divided into logical subtopics and finally into the basic unit of the text-the two-page spread. Nearly every individual subject is treated without turning a page, and how these pages are packed! The clear and spirited text is stunning, enhanced with over 500 illustrations, making this a particularly rich reference work and a browser's dream. The history part consists of chronological chapters that trace the language's development. It offers a fascinating treatment of the growth of English during Shakespeare's time as well as its adaptation to the needs of international trade and late 20th-century technology. Crystal is attuned to the diversity of English usage around the world, providing a variety of wide-ranging quotations, photographs, newspaper clippings, poems, ads, and cartoons. The text treats controversial topics such as black English, word and place origins, regional English, dialect, the U.S. movement to make English the official language, politically correct language, and the future. The book's layout, three indexes, and glossary will make it useful both at the reference desk and in the circulating collection. Crystal has created an attractive and readable work for the lay reader as well as the specialist. For most academic, public, and school libraries.-Paul D'Alessandro, Portland P.L., Me. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In the tradition of Crystal's The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (CH, Jan'88) and The Cambridge Factfinder (1993), this innovative book presents the story of English thematically. Six broad topics provide the overall structure: "The History of English," "English Vocabulary," "English Grammar," "Spoken and Written English," " Using English," and "Learning About English." Each chapter is skillfully subdivided into a basic pattern of topics arranged on two-page spreads. Lively color illustrations, maps, charts, and text inserts immediately capture the reader's interest and, in many cases, let the language speak for itself in ways the more traditional dictionary format, as in The Oxford Companion to the English Language (CH, Jan'93), cannot. Generous cross-references assist readers in their excursions within this comprehensive work. Such intricate management and organization of information allows readers to begin with any portion of the work and move in any direction. Seven appendixes contain a glossary of specialized language terms, a list of special symbols and abbreviations, references used in the book and addresses of journals and societies, a list for suggested further reading, an index of linguistic items, an index for authors and personalities, and a final index of topics. This unique and invaluable reference book, offering a balance between exposition and example, should find its way into libraries of all types. Highly recommended for readers of all kinds. R. Hanson; Muskingum College

Table of Contents

1 Modelling English
Part I The History of English
2 The origins of English
3 Old English
4 Middle English
5 Early Modern English
6 Modern English
7 World English
Part II English Vocabulary
8 The nature of the lexicon
9 The sources of the lexicon
10 Etymology
11 The structure of the lexicon
12 Lexical dimensions
Part III English Grammar
13 Grammatical mythology
14 The structure of words
15 Word classes
16 The structure of sentences
Part IV Spoken and Written English
17 The sound system
18 The writing system
Part V Using English
19 Varieties of discourse
20 Regional variation
21 Social variation
22 Personal variation
Part VI Learning about English
23 Learning English as a mother tongue
24 New ways of studying English