Reviews elsewhere on the web:

Robert McCrum,Robert MacNeil and William Cran

The Story of English

English is spoken by a significant proportion of the world's population. How did one language become so dominant and how does the English spoken in one place differ from that spoken in another? If you're interested in such questions then you might like to take a look at The Story of English by Robert McCrum ,Robert MacNeil and William Cran.

The book isn't so much about the roots of English - there are a couple of chapters on its early history - as a celebration of the diversity of the English language. The authors look at Scotch and Irish English, at the differences between American and British English, at Cockney, Strine (Australian English) and many other versions of the language. The book ends with a look at the future of English. I felt that the concentration on diversity was a weakness in the book - the authors give much less prominence to factors which promote uniformity in language. For instance the internet gets pretty much no mention, despite the third edition of the book being published in 2002. Certainly it's a highly informative book, and if you've watched the TV series on which the book is based (which I haven't) then I can see this as a useful resource for taking the subject further. However, if you're looking for a history of the language, or a discussion of diversity versus uniformity, the I would suggest that you look elsewhere. info
Paperback 496 pages  
ISBN: 0142002313
Salesrank: 156963
Published: 2002 Penguin Books
Amazon price $16.83
Marketplace:New from $11.84:Used from $4.03
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Paperback 496 pages  
ISBN: 0571210775
Salesrank: 3439182
Weight:0.75 lbs
Published: 2002 Faber and Faber
Marketplace:New from £71.76:Used from £0.01
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Paperback 496 pages  
ISBN: 0571210775
Salesrank: 3683926
Weight:0.75 lbs
Published: 2002 Faber & Faber
Amazon price CDN$ 32.51
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 32.51:Used from CDN$ 2.65
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Product Description
Now revised, The Story of English is the first book to tell the whole story of the English language. Originally paired with a major PBS miniseries, this book presents a stimulating and comprehensive record of spoken and written English—from its Anglo-Saxon origins some two thousand years ago to the present day, when English is the dominant language of commerce and culture with more than one billion English speakers around the world. From Cockney, Scouse, and Scots to Gulla, Singlish, Franglais, and the latest African American slang, this sweeping history of the English language is the essential introduction for anyone who wants to know more about our common tongue.