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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language


  • 300 b/w illus. 200 colour illus. 20 maps 100 tables
  • Page extent: 488 pages
  • Size: 276 x 219 mm
  • Weight: 1.965 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 403
  • Dewey version: 20
  • LC Classification: P29 .C64 1997
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Language and languages--Dictionaries
    • Linguistics--Dictionaries
    • Performing arts--Greece--History

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521559676 | ISBN-10: 0521559677)

DOI: 10.2277/0521559677

  • There was also a Hardback of this title but it is no longer available
  • Published March 1997

Replaced by 9780521736503

 (Stock level updated: 09:41 GMT, 30 November 2015)


This second edition of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language presents a mass of new information and introduces the subject of language to a fresh generation of students and general readers. The first edition of the book is probably the most successful general study of language ever published. This second edition extends the range of coverage to include advances in areas like machine translation, speech interaction with machines, and language teaching. There is new material on acoustics, physiological concepts of language, and World English, and a complete update of the language distribution maps, language-speaking statistics, a table of the world's languages, and further reading. All geopolitical material has been revised to take account of boundary changes. The book has been redesigned and is presented for the first time in full colour, with new pictures and maps added.

• First edition of the same book has sold 130,000 since published in 1987


Part I. Popular Ideas about Language: 1. The prescriptive tradition; 2. The equality of languages; 3. The magic of language; 4. The functions of language; 5. Language and thought; Part II. Language and Identity: 6. Physical identity; 7. Psychological identity; 8. Geographical identity; 9. Ethnic and national identity; 10. Social identity; 11. Contextual identity; 12. Stylistic identity and literature; Part III. The Structure of Language: 13. Linguistic levels; 14. Typology and universals; 15. The statistical structure of language; 16. Grammar; 17. Semantics; 18. Dictionaries; 19. Names; 20. Discourses and text; 21. Pragmatics; Part IV. The Medium of Language: Speaking and Listening: 22. The anatomy and physiology of speech; 23. The acoustics of speech; 24. The instrumental; 25. Speech reception; 26. Speech interaction with machines; 27. The sounds of speech; 28. The linguistic use of sound; 29. Suprasegmentals; 30. Sound symbolism; Part V. The Medium of Language: Writing and Reading: 31. Written and spoken language; 32. Graphic expression; 33. Graphology; 34. The process of reading and writing; Part VI. The Medium of Language: Signing and Seeing: 35. Sign language; 36. Sign language structure; 37. Types of sign language; Part VII. Child Language Acquisition: 38. Investigating children's language; 39. The first year; 40. Phonological development; 41. Grammatical development; 42. Semantic development; 43. Pragmatic development; 44. Language development in school; Part VIII. Language, Brain and Handicap: 45. Language and the brain; 46. Language handicap; Part IX. The Languages of the World: 47. How many languages?; 48. How many speakers?; 49. The origins of language; 50. Families of languages; 51. The Indo-European family; 52. Other families; 53. Language isolates; 54. Language change; 55. Pidgins and creoles; Part X. Language in the World: 56. The language barrier; 57. Translating and interpreting; 58. Artificial languages; 59. World languages; 60. Multilingualism; 61. Language planning; 62. Foreign language learning and teaching; 63. Language for special purposes; Part XI. Language and Communication: 64. Language and other communication systems; 65. Linguistics; Appendices.


'… a celebration of language in all its oddity, beauty, fun, astonishing complexity and limitless variety.' London Review of Books

'The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language is a masterpeice of comprehensiveness and clarity.' New Internationalist

'… an ingenious tour de force … stunningly diverse linguistic menu.' Robert Burchfield, The Times

'… magnificently demonstrates Professor Crystal's outstanding breadth of knowledge, incisiveness of judgment and superb skills at getting to the heart of highly complex issues in a clear and straightforward manner.' Randolph Quirk, FBA

'… David Crystal has a great facility for explaining language issues with plain good sense, wit and admirable brevity.' The Times Educational Supplement

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