Get Your Free Audiobook

The Story of English in 100 Words

Narrated by: David Crystal
Length: 7 hrs and 56 mins
Categories: History, British
4 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

Non-member price: $24.97

After 30 days, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

Winner: Audiofile Magazine Earphones Award

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)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Here's a delight you shouldn't miss. True, not everyone has an abiding interest in linguistics, but David Crystal's method of focusing on single and representative words produces fascinating results, and surprising breadth. Words like 'able,' 'and,' 'ain't,' 'alphabet,' and 'dude' have their individual history, illustrate some historic feature of language, and mark the development of English from long ago to the present day. As narrator, Crystal sounds like he learned his English in the 1700s, and his distinctly British pronunciation of words like 'controversy' stands out in a treatise on language and, at the same time, highlights his underlying themes--that language is arbitrary, whimsical, oftentimes nonsensical, and always changing. Ideal for a commute or a daily round, Crystal's 100 brisk chapters are uniquely suited for audiobook consumption, rich in pith and humor, and a total treat however consumed." (Audiofile Magazine)

What listeners say about The Story of English in 100 Words

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Barbara Dennis
  • Barbara Dennis
  • 13-03-2017

Stepping Stones

What a fascinating walk along a path of 100 words that illustrate the history of the English language.
The author and narrator, David Crystal takes us on a journey, pausing at each stone to look about or pick a few wildflowers within reach to illustrate or elaborate upon the key word.
I was pleased that David read his own work, he sounded just as I imagined he would, a pleasant blend of scholarliness and levity.
I'll listen to it again as there are so many interesting anecdotes that I cannot even now recall.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Margaret
  • Margaret
  • 18-10-2011

Sparkling

This is a book written and read by a man with an obvious and very endearing love for his subject. Unlike sime authors' readings of their own books, this is a real delight. Giggling, nay, laughing out loud on the Tube, I have now renewed my acquaintance with some words and been neatly introduced to others. I loved this and would highly recommend it, finding not only, as the author says, that I can see the trees but the woods as well. I think he has achieved his object.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mr David Newton
  • Mr David Newton
  • 25-12-2012

Interesting - most of the time

David Crystal is without doubt THE expert in the English language and his academic work in the field provides the main textbooks for many linguistic courses.

His academic confidence means that he has the ability to read his own work well and in an interested manner. His delight in the language means that he is open to words entering the language from many places and celebrates those which arise form slang or text with the same delight, or perhaps even more pleasure, as those which came from Latin or Germanic sources. He even seems to take pleasure in the variety of common spellings, as if taking a gentle swipe at the purists who claim theirs is the 'correct' use.

The only hesitation I have is that the book is a list. He takes words in chronological order of their entry into the language and I am sure that works well in the written form. But in audio there is a problem for me. I find that my attention can drift and if that happens when he is moving from one word to another I can get a little lost.

Although I am an enthusiastic audio listener this is perhaps better on the eye than the ear.



12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Elizabeth
  • Elizabeth
  • 30-06-2013

Surprisingly fun!

Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed this book, which surprised me. I often get bored quite quickly with non-fiction, finding it harder to stick with than fiction. This book doesn't allow the material to get dry though. It is the sort of book you can dip in and out of because the chapters are quite short and focus on one word at a time. David Crystal's narrative is almost conversational in tone, he just wants to tell you some interesting and fun things about each word, and then moves on. He throws in a few rude words, and a few modern hybrid words, like chillax, to show some of the interesting and strange things that words can do, but my favourite was bone-house. This book probably has nothing new to tell linguists, but is still told in such an enjoyable way that perhaps even those who have nothing to learn from this book could still find enjoyment from hearing David Crystal talk about them.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Iain
  • Iain
  • 13-04-2013

Expert English

Professor David Crystal is, without doubt, the English language expert. This tour of 100 English words is at times illuminating, humorous and extraordinarily well informed. He takes the listener through a semi-chronological tour of words to illustrate various linguistic points of interest. Where this audiobook excels is in the fact that it is in the authors own voice, helping to bridge the awkward 'how is this word pronounced' gap experienced in written texts. An excellent and fun book and highly recommended.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mary Carnegie
  • Mary Carnegie
  • 12-08-2016

Entertaining, surprising, never pedantic.

David Crystal knows LOTS about language but never makes a meal of his erudition. He's never dogmatic, prescriptive or snooty about words and how they're used.
Human language is so amazing, infinite, inventive, playful, evolutionary and revolutionary - one of the most wonderful things on Earth - and David Crystal reminds us of some of its fun in this collection of words, old and new.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Zen Kite
  • Zen Kite
  • 05-03-2015

The Story of English

An excellent book, full of warmth, wit and erudition. David Crystal is a master of his subject and a great narrator.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Radioactive tea
  • Radioactive tea
  • 09-02-2015

David Crystal is the best

A brilliant book, wonderfully executed. I love his authoritative, but never patronising, tone. it made me smile every time I got into the car and excitedly told friends and family some of the words I learned about.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Wendy
  • Wendy
  • 07-04-2013

Entertaining and informative Etymological jaunt

I am fascinated by the history of English, but with so many great books out there I approached this one cautiously. It was a very pleasant surprise. Well narrated by the author (always a plus) it is an entertaining ramble through the language broken into manageable bite-sized chunks based on individual words. I enjoyed it a lot.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Oliver
  • Oliver
  • 16-12-2019

One to miss

Really dull. The 100 words picked were not that interesting and the later more modern ones were a bit cringe worthy.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mike T.
  • Mike T.
  • 17-01-2020

Great fun.

For the most part this is a great listen. Engaging, informative, eye-opening, surprising and sometimes laugh out loud fun. Some of the modern words may not be as interesting as the "older" ones, but this is still a great listen for anyone interested in etymology.

2 people found this helpful