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The Story of Be: A Verb's-Eye View of the English Language

The Story of Be: A Verb's-Eye View of the English Language

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  • ISBN-13: 9780198791096
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Release Date: Jun 01, 2017
  • Edition: 1
  • Pages: 208 pages
  • Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.3 x 7.8 inches


It's the most simple, unassuming, innocent-looking verb: to be. Yet it is jam-packed with more different meanings, forms, and uses than any other English word. As he reveals be's multiple incarnations, David Crystal takes us to the heart of our flexible and changing language. He tells the intriguing story in 26 chapters, each linked to a particular usage. We meet circumstantial be ("how are you?"), numerical be ("two and two is four"), quotative be ("so I was like, 'wow'"), and ludic be ("oh no he isn't!"), and a whole swarm of other meanings. Bringing the ideas to life are a host of examples from sources as varied as Beowulf, Jane Austen, pantomime, Hamlet (of course), and Star Wars, with cartoons from Ed McLachlan and Punch peppered throughout. Full of fascinating nuggets of information, it is a book to delight any lover of words and language.

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