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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.

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