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Review "just a Phrase I'm Going Through"

Autor:   •  July 30, 2017  •  Creative Writing  •  1,964 Words (8 Pages)  •  779 Views

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Review "Just a Phrase I'm going through"


Summary: Just a phrase I’m going through

David Crystal

Before I start writing my summary I must be completely honest and tell you that there were chapters of the book that I found tedious and boring, hence I skipped them, like chapter 17. Although I did read all the panels in every chapter, they were entertaining and somehow the way he shared small stories of his past gave important advice that could be useful for a future linguist, like me.

This book is a compilation of memories of the author through all his life and what made him took an interest in linguistics. Throughout the book he tells us fascinating stories of his youth and adulthood that were an important key to make him develop a great fascination of languages and writing.

He begins the book with a funny prologue where he tells us the time when he gave a conference in Dublin. At the end of the tale he says “What on earth is going on? How have I ended up here?” As the book goes on, that question is being answered, how on earth did he end up there, giving a conference and nearly scared to death? And most importantly how did he end up there being asked to do a conference in linguistics?

Most of the times the prologue gives a small introduction to the book, and most of the times I skip that part but somehow I found myself reading this prologue that even though it is actually telling you what the book is about the author makes it somehow interesting as his life in linguistics is told. And that is the point of the prologue; it makes you realize the way the book is written.

On chapter one he goes on about the task that being a linguist is, and what means to be a linguist too. “Being a linguist, in my sense of the word, evidently doesn’t mean that you’ve managed to learn lots of foreign languages. But it does mean that you’ve interested in them.” (Crystal, 2009) Being a linguist is much of a passion as it is for other subjects and he shows us throughout the book how is the life of a linguist committed to the language cause.

Funny stories are told in his book, like the way he accommodates to different accents according to the people he is talking with, and this practice I’ve come to notice is quite regularly between people who study languages.

At first he throws a bunch of information about linguists that I began to see which applied to me, to my delight I found I had the aptitudes, qualities and curiosity he thinks is proper of a linguist. I’m still happy to have come across this book, it showed me the world I chose as it is, complex and with worlds within worlds, fascinating as it is.

As I said above in every chapter there were these “panels” where he wrote short stories that had had happened to him at some point in his life. In such stories he put some morals in every one of them, it’s important to mention that many of them are likely to happen to any mortal soul, like him.

The first chapter is like an introduction to the next chapters, he explains a bit what has happened to him while his first introduction to linguistics.

The way his book is written makes you think as if it has a sequential order but although he tries to have some sort of sequence sometimes he is not constant in the dates he writes.

In the second chapter we take a look at his childhood, and there he tells us his welsh inheritance, although himself explains that he is not very good at welsh, as he says he is a semilingual. He is from a very small town called Holyhead. In this chapter he emphasizes that having an interest in history is a very important feature to become a linguist. In a very little paragraph he says he was born in 1941 when the war was still going on and the town he lived in was at war too, “I can still remember the vile smell and claustrophobia of having my face covered in a gas mask” (Crystal, 2009). But nothing else is mentioned about this time, maybe because he was still very young.

He then talks about his scholar years, where he moved to Liverpool and attended a catholic church where was repeatedly punished for talking too much, but none of that mattered for here he encountered the horrors of Latin (as I think they are) and Ancient Greek. Although he thinks differently for he loved to learn those. He found out later that he liked philology through Latin and Greek even though at the time he liked it he didn’t know the name of what was he doing. Here he developed a great interest in languages and how they evolve to nowadays languages.

Being in a band truly was not one of his goals but he was in one, “The Zodiacs”, this recalls me of that serial killer in the US more or less at the mid of the 1960’s. They were quite famous, I mean locally of course, and as the end of their school year got closer the decisions of going to college or the band were pretty hard. At the end he went for college and left to London although he was pretty close to have chosen the musician life.

The studies of language were underrated, even nowadays people think you are studying languages to become a teacher, and in his time things were a little harder.

At college he soon found out his liking for literature and linguistics, although they were a headache at the beginning because there were no books of introductory linguistics, but after meeting professor Quirk he taught him well. And as the author says, the professor Quirk came to teach them how it was supposed to, from the beginning.



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