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From 'App' To 'Tea': English Examined In '100 Words'

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Linguist David Crystal describes English as "a vacuum cleaner of a language" — speakers merrily swipe some words from other languages, adopt others because they're cool or sound classy and simply make up other terms.

Crystal believes every word has a story to tell, even the ones as commonplace as "and." In his new book, he tells The Story of English in 100 Words, he compiles a collection of words — classic words like "tea" and new words like "app" — that explain how the the English language has evolved.

He tells NPR's Neal Conan about the challenge of compiling this list and the idiosyncrasies of the English language.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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