Think On My Words

Crystal, David. (2008). Think on my words: exploring Shakespeare’s language. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Linguist David Crystal provides a thorough overview of Shakespeare’s English in this book aimed at the lay reader. Accessible and easy to read, Think On My Words is suitable for both classroom use and casual reading.

In the first chapter, Crystal debunks several common myths about Shakespeare’s contribution to the language, including:

  • whether Shakespearian English is still spoken in some rural, backwoods regions
  • whether or not Shakespeare used an extraordinary number of words
  • whether or not Shakespeare coined an extraordinary number of words
  • whether his works need to be “translated” to be understood by a modern reader
  • whether or not he had a distinctive style.

The next chapter addresses the early manuscripts and folios, fundamental to any scholarly understanding of his works and language. Subsequent chapters address Shakespeare’s writing and spelling, punctuation, phonology and pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and conversational styles and meter.

Crystal is one of the most prolific writers on linguistics publishing today and his special gift is making the subject easily understandable to the lay reader and beginning student. His research is top-notch and his prose is fun to read. This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to understand the basics of Shakespearian language.

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