By Hook or By Crook

by David Crystal

Years ago a television series was terminated by its creators after seven years, even though the series still enjoyed excellent ratings. The creators explained that they didn’t want to continue the series until it had lost its creative spark and the ratings went down; they wanted it to forever retain its reputation for excellence.

David Crystal has written many excellent books about language. I fell in love with
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, and then with The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. I also greatly enjoyed The Stories of English. So when I saw another title by David Crystal, I snatched it up. Would that Mr. Crystal had exercised the same wisdom as the above-mentioned television people.

I’m glad that Mr. Crystal did not cheat me by repeating material in his previous books, but I’m sad that he has run out of things to say. This book is really a travelogue. For a BBC television program on Welsh, Mr. Crystal drove around Wales, talking to people and making notes on their dialects. Most of the book is just his observations of Welsh terrain, road signs, farmers, and other mundane material. There’s precious little about language in this book. Hence there’s not much for me to say about it, other than that it was a waste of my time and money.