By hook or by crook…

… is the name of book about English that I’ve recently finished reading.  Written by linguist and author David Crystal it is a rambling exploration of words, placenames and the ever changing state of English.  Researched during his travels for the BBC series Voices, he examines the languages, accents and places he comes across.  The book is subtitled A journey in search of English, but it possibly should have been subtitled A journey in search of Welsh.  Crystal focuses very much on the Welsh language during his travels through Wales and the surrounding English countryside. 

It’s a good read, full of anecdotes and interesting tidbits, and I learnt more about the Welsh language.  I was interested in the sections relating to Anglo Saxon and Celtic languages and how they have influenced modern English and English placenames.  I’m aware from other books about English I’ve read that the influence of these language diminished somewhat in the face of incoming Germanic influence (which can be seen in the very basis of English as a Germanic language).  I’d like to read more about Anglo Saxon and Celtic loan words in English. David Crystal also has a blog which can be accessed here.