David Crystal: “It’s amazing how much has happened in just twenty years.”

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of LanguageThe world’s most successful book on language has launched its third edition after a raft of revisions that took even the author by surprise.

“It’s amazing how much has happened in just twenty years,” writes David Crystal, author of seminal work, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. For the third edition, he has had to revise every one of the thousands of language statistics in the text and bring it up-to-date for the digital age – and for an age in which ‘language death’ is increasing.

Whole new content areas have opened up since the book was first published in 1987. Two new sections now deal with the rise of electronic communication in all its current forms from internet and email to texting, and the crisis affecting the world’s languages, of which half are thought to be so seriously endangered that they will die out this century.

All major developments in language study since the mid 1990s are covered along with new maps, illustrations and text design. Special attention has been paid to fast-moving areas such as language teaching and learning.

Since the second edition came out in 1997 there have also been huge changes in areas such as phonetics, pidgin and creole languages, pragmatics, language typology, foreign language learning, and sign languages. In Europe alone we encounter a totally different linguistic world. So there was far more revision than I was expecting.” said Professor Crystal. “But the result is a book which, pictorially as well as graphically, feels very much 21st century.”

All of which means that the third edition will open up the wonderful world of language to a whole new audience as fresh generations of students and general readers discover Crystal’s insights, lauded by reviewers as an ‘ingenious tour de force’ (The Times) and a ‘masterpiece of comprehensiveness and clarity’ (New Internationalist).

Click here to visit the book’s webpage

Click here to visit David Crystal’s blog

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