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Spell It Out

The singular story of English spelling

Spell It Out by David Crystal
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Why is there an 'h' in ghost? William Caxton, inventor of the printing press and his Flemish employees are to blame: without a dictionary or style guide to hand in fifteenth century Bruges, the typesetters simply spelled it the way it sounded to their foreign ears, and it stuck. Seventy-five per cent of English spelling is regular but twenty-five per cent is complicated, and in Spell It Out our foremost linguistics expert David Crystal extends a helping hand to the confused and curious alike.

He unearths the stories behind the rogue words that confound us, and explains why these peculiarities entered the mainstream, in an epic journey taking in sixth century monks, French and Latin upstarts, the Industrial Revolution and the internet. By learning the history and the principles, Crystal shows how the spellings that break all the rules become easier to get right.

Profile Books; September 2012
ISBN 9781847658227
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: Spell It Out
Author: David Crystal
 
  • News
Punctuation and pragmatism - Baltimore Sun (blog)
Wed, 21 Oct 2015 07:57:44 -0700
Punctuation and pragmatismBaltimore Sun (blog)David Crystal, the eminent British linguist, points out in Making a Point: The ...
Books to Watch Out For: June - New Yorker (blog)
Mon, 03 Jun 2013 14:55:06 -0700
Books to Watch Out For: JuneNew Yorker (blog)The underlying system of English spelling is “robust and regular,” writes David ...
Well-chosen words - Financial Times
Fri, 21 Dec 2012 11:10:54 -0800
Well-chosen wordsFinancial TimesEmployers have told David Crystal that if they receive a job application with a spelling ...

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