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The Story of Be: A Verb's-Eye View of the English Language

David Crystal



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Oxford University Press
18 May 2017
Language: history & general works; linguistics; Historical & comparative linguistics; Social & cultural history
The verb 'be' has a remarkable history, and a wider range of meanings, uses, and forms than any other English word. In this book, David Crystal explores the intriguing story of this verb over 26 chapters, each linked to a particular usage. Chapters explore, for instance, circumstantial be ('how are you?'), numerical be ('two and two is four'), quotative be ('so I was like, wow '), and ludic be ('oh no he isn't!'). The discussion is accompanied by examples from a whole host of sources, literary and otherwise, such as Beowulf, Jane Austen, pantomime, and Star Wars, and further illustrated by cartoons including several from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century issues of Punch. Full of fascinating nuggets of information, this book will appeal to a broad audience of lovers of words and language.
By:   David Crystal
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 203mm,  Width: 136mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   320g
ISBN:   9780198791096
ISBN 10:   0198791097
Pages:   208
Publication Date:   18 May 2017
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

David Crystal is known throughout the world as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster on language. He has published extensively on the history and development of English, including The Stories of English (2004), Evolving English (2010), Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language (2010), The Story of English in 100 Words (2011), Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling (2012), Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist's Guide to Britain (with Hilary Crystal, 2013), and The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation (2016).

Reviews for The Story of Be: A Verb's-Eye View of the English Language

The Story of Be does a brilliant job: it offers a language enthusiast an entertaining overview of the history of be along with social changes affecting its use, dialect features, and much more. Bookbag

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