Language

David Crystal, A Little Book of Language

Language is unique, fascinating and mystifying all at the same time. In fact, it is so complex and sometimes so arbitrary that aliens observing us may wonder how an individual ever masters a language, and sometimes more than one. Yet, we all do it with amazing skill and speed through the early years of our lives. Before we receive formal education, we would already have a good grasp of at least one language and know how to use it to communicate, get what we want and express our emotions.

We are more adept at language than we think. Within the same language, we know how to vary style, tone, vocabulary and even grammar in different contexts. Most of the time, this is not taught to us and we are not conscious that we are doing it. The things we can achieve with language, when we master it, are almost limitless.

Even without being a linguist, we can all enjoy the fun that language brings us, simply by being more aware of how uniquely we use it across time and space. In the words of David Crystal, “it’s the Mount Everest of subjects. I suppose that’s why I find it all so fascinating.”

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