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

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

By: David Crystal (author)Hardback

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It's the most simple, unassuming, innocent-looking verb: 'to be'. Yet it is jam-packed with more different meanings, forms, and uses than any other English word. As he reveals be's multiple incarnations, David Crystal takes us to the heart of our flexible and changing language. He tells the intriguing story in 26 chapters, each linked to a particular usage. We meet 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!'), and a whole swarm of other meanings. Bringing the ideas to life are a host of examples from sources as varied as Beowulf, Jane Austen, pantomime, Hamlet (of course), and Star Wars, with cartoons from Ed McLachlan and Punch peppered throughout. Full of fascinating nuggets of information, it is a book to delight any lover of words and language.

About Author

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).


Prologue: In the beginning 1: To be or not to be 2: Time being 3: Being, as was 4: Have you been? 5: I am to resign 6: Has the doctor been? 7: How are you? 8: I've been with someone 9: Two and two is four 10: I might be being obsessive, but... 11: My kids are all grown up 12: Wannabes and has-beens 13: That is to say 14: You're cheeky, you are 15: Been and done it 16: Business is business 17: So be it 18: I live in Wales, innit? 19: So I was, like, wow 20: Woe is me 21: All shall be well 22: How old are you? 23: Is you is or is you ain't? 24: Oh no he isn't 25: Lane closed ahead 26: It's just a book, after all Appendix: Old English pronunciations

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780198791096
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 208
  • ID: 9780198791096
  • weight: 320
  • ISBN10: 0198791097

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