• The Story of English in 100 Words

  • By: David Crystal
  • Narrated by: David Crystal
  • Length: 7 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (239 ratings)

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The Story of English in 100 Words  By  cover art

The Story of English in 100 Words

By: David Crystal
Narrated by: David Crystal
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Publisher's Summary

In this unique new history of the world's most ubiquitous language, linguistics expert David Crystal draws on words that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences, and events that have helped to shape our vernacular since the first definitively English word was written down in the fifth century ("roe", in case you are wondering). Featuring Latinate and Celtic words, weasel words and nonce-words, ancient words ("loaf") to cutting edge ("twittersphere"), and spanning the indispensable words that shape our tongue ("and", "what") to the more fanciful ("fopdoodle"), Crystal takes us along the winding byways of language via the rude, the obscure, and the downright surprising.

©2011 David Crystal (P)2012 AudioGO

What listeners say about The Story of English in 100 Words

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Random but entertaining

The book is well suited to intermittent listening because each word gets it's own 4-5 minute chapter without any overlap. Conversely, just as each etymology becomes interesting it's time to move on, which gets frustrating.

He uses obscure words as well as current coinage (such as "blogoshpere") to demonstrate all the various ways words enter our language. There is really no grand conclusion about the history of the language so a better title might be "The story of 100 English words."

It's entertaining and light and the performance is very good.

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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One for Word Buffs

Who knows English better than, well, the English? And David Crystal, the writer AND narrator, is a British linguist who presents here not only a history of his native tongue but also gives us an unbiased look at how it has adapted regionally throughout England itself as well as throughout the globe. Write on, Mr. Crystal!

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting but much to digest

It might've been better to maybe do twenty words and go more in depth on each. Spending three to five minutes on a word makes this more like listening to a bunch of capsule summaries. Anyhow, I still learned something and hope some of it sticks.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful and Educational

This book made me wish I was making notes on all the nifty things I learned. I loved the combination of the development of language along with the history of areas that affected the language.
Only things I wish: I wish there was a PDF attachment with a list of the chapter names at least so that I could go back and easily reflect on chapters. I may create one for myself and relisten to the book.
I wish there was a book like this focused on American English. British english is a foundation for American Eng. but there were times I wish it he expanded upon some American Topics.

1 person found this helpful

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Very Interesting!

Usually I enjoy listening to a novel, or non-fiction about animals; however, this story about English words was very fascinating. I only knew a few bits and pieces, now I know much more.

I enjoyed David Crystal’s voice and the way he emphasized words and phrases with various inflection and intonation to keep my interest, I imagine he’s a pleasant man to be in conversation with. So hats off!

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  • DM
  • 04-12-22

interesting, fun, and entertaining

thoroughly enjoyed this. fantastic new perspective on the English language. I can see why someone would want to be a linguist now. it is incredibly fascinating to see where the words we use come from and how they are used differently in different places.
Enjoyable read.
Note: this book does cover some obscene words. Be prepared.

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Definitely worth a listen

Nerdy and hilarious. Really made me stop and think about the words I've been using every day and every way.

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HORRIBLE Performance, TERRIBLE book, DO NOT bother

I might have liked this book better if the author didn't ruin it with his horrible performance. Every time he talks about a word in American English, he puts on a fake "American" accent that sounds like he's trying to do John Wayne but fails very badly, it's incredibly insulting and moronic. (He doesn't do this with Australian English except in one chapter about Australian English.) He also gets his understanding of American English from TV and movies, I assume, because he's wrong most of the time. It's written specifically for a British audience and maybe they wouldn't find him so insulting, but I do not recommend an American pick this up. He talks about "common" words that I've never heard of, and I have to assume are either commonly British or he's making that up. I wish I could have given his performance zero stars. There are some interesting points but he also presents his opinion as fact way too often without explaining that there are other thoughts besides his. His ego comes through in spades and I don't know if he's trying to be funny but it fails miserably. The last ten or so chapters are the WORST, he's clearly a Boomer and technology confuses the hell out of him. He doesn't know what he's talking about and sounds like it. He would have been better to ask someone who actually owns a computer and a "mo-bile phone" than take guesses and get it wrong. Very very wrong.

If it hadn't been free on Audible, I'd be furious I wasted money on this, as it is, I only wasted time.

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Good, but sometimes tediuos

overall pretty good but sometimes obscure and tedious, but generally worth it over all.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Fun read

100 great stories about the histories of English words. Highly recommended. Good option between some heavier topics.