On A little Book of Language
By: Muslim Shafi
David Crystal’s fame and contributions are not hidden from any academic community and, particularly, from language students. David has wide range of books, articles and researches on language and linguistic theories.
His book: A Little Book of Language stands as a masterpiece in understanding the nature and the importance of human language and that how language interlinks us within its meaningless sounds to making sense of our lives through the mirror of the language. This book teaches us, almost, everything about language.
First published in 2010, this book has 40 very brief chapters. The very beauty of the book is that it has been written in a straightforward language, which we can also call: Plain English. After reading one becomes very much familiar with language: the greatest creation of man kind, and its use in every walk of life. No reader finds words that go very difficult for them. From very beginning to the end it is plain and catching in its contents.
David starts the book with the chapter named: Baby Talk. This chapter discusses the origin of language in the mother’s womb. I, personally, previously, thought that we begin learning a language from outside world but Crystal clearly denies this fact by giving common examples of baby and mother’s relation. The heart beat and blood sounds of the mother and her activities settle the ground for the baby to learn two basic language features before arriving into this world. These two features are rhythm and intonation.
David takes the story of language by discussing its meaningless sounds to meaningful discourses in a way that surprises the readers. This journey goes on decoding everything aspect of language. We get comprehensive answers to questions related to physiology, phonetics, syntax and semantics of language. Crystal answers questions of morphology that how words are formed, stay for month or a decade and then die away like the man does.
Is there a reality or, is reality shaped by language? why mothers repeat certain words and phrases? Why we need to study sounds while they are meaningless? And many such other questions concerning language are answers in: A Little Book of Language