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Making a Point


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The triumphant new volume in David Crystal's classic series on the English language combines the first history of English punctuation with a complete guide to how to use it

About the Author

David Crystal is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. His many books range from clinical linguistics to the liturgy and Shakespeare. He is the author of The Story of English in 100 Words and Spell It Out: The Singular History of English Spelling, both published by Profile. His Stories of English is a Penguin Classic.


Praise for David Crystal: 'Entertaining ... Crystal's many examples show that the development of English spelling is as random, unsystematic and anomalous as the British constitution. English spelling is as rich a mixture of anachronism, privilege and fashion as the House of Lords * Sunday Times *
A prolific author ... he can write with authority on trends in the spelling of rhubarb and indeed on the history of the spelling of any tricky word you care to mention. For him, the patterns are clear ... highly entertaining * Observer *
Crystal does an excellent job, not just of tracing the etymology of a word, but of relating it to social history, painting a picture of our times through words * Independent on Sunday *
The big four - comma, semicolon, colon and full stop - were for a long time, and insanely, regarded as precise measurements of a pause: a full stop was worth four commas. The book's full of this sort of curio: interesting on first encounter; illuminating on investigation ... Here is a learned and subtle book that amuses as it instructs, and instructs as it amuses. It deserves to sell three million -- Sam Leith * Guardian *
David Crystal's superb new book is packed full of illuminating examples of the political, social and technological forces that have driven the evolution of English punctuation. With crisp, tight prose punctuated with self-conscious precision, Crystal provides not only a historical guide but an indispensable reference manual that doesn't so much lay down the law as provide a rational framework * South China Morning Post *
David Crystal's engaging history of punctuation... sprint[s] from eight-century Britain to the modern world in less than 100 pages...Mr Crystal treats his chosen period with enthusiasm and insight. -- Keith Houston * Wall Street Journal *
Crystal (Spell It Out) will delight anyone interested in written language with this exploration and explication of English's deceptively complex system of punctuation ... he brings scholarly acumen and gravity, as well as delight and good humor, to his subject. * Publishers Weekly *

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