A last-minute Christmas gift for spelling-challenged book lovers

Just enough time for one more gift idea for book lovers: “Spell It Out –The Singular Story of English Spelling”, by David Crystal. In the words of the publishers, Profile Books:

Seventy-five per cent of English spelling is regular but twenty-five per cent is complicated, and in Spell It Out, our foremost linguistics expert David Crystal extends a helping hand to the confused and curious alike. […] He unearths the stories behind the rogue words that confound us, and explains why these peculiarities entered the mainstream […] By learning the history and the principles, Crystal shows how the spellings that break all the rules become easier to get right.

This book would make a good present for anyone looking for a not-too-heavy read on the history of English and how the language developed. Or for people learning English and trying to make sense of the spelling. Or indeed for teachers, struggling to answer their students’ awkward questions about the language (there’s nothing like students’ awkward questions for showing up the gaps in your own knowledge).

The bonus is, it’s too late to buy it at Amazon in time for Christmas so you’ll be able to support your local bookshop.

Previous posts about spelling:

Spelling bees in my bonnet

Spelling “speling”

By Marian Dougan

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