Filed Under:

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

Play associated audio

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/.

NPR

National Museum of African American History Opens Its Doors

More than 100 years after it was originally proposed, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is opening its doors in Washington, D.C.
NPR

While Everyone Was Partying At Woodstock, I Was Stuck At Schrafft's

The chain restaurant that catered to women helped redefine how Americans eat, according to a new book. For NPR's Lynn Neary, it also defined how she did and didn't fit with the counterculture.
NPR

Newspaper Endorsements Matter Most When They're Unexpected

The New York Times endorsed Hillary Clinton on Saturday, but an endorsement that came the day before from a smaller paper may matter more to its readers, for the simple fact that it was unexpected.
NPR

As Our Jobs Are Automated, Some Say We'll Need A Guaranteed Basic Income

How will the economy provide economic opportunities if employers need fewer workers in the future? A growing number of people in Silicon Valley are saying the only realistic answer is a basic income.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.