5 Minutes with David Crystal

5 Minutes with David Crystal

David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Bangor, Wales, UK, but works from his home in Holyhead, Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster. He has published over a hundred books on various aspects of linguistics, with particular reference to the English language, and is probably best known for his two encyclopedias for Cambridge University Press: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, both now in their third editions. He lives online at www.davidcrystal.com, www.shakespeareswords.com, and www.originalpronunciation.com.

David is also Patron of The Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library, an initiative run by LBF’s 2018 Charity of the Year.


What was the last book you read?

Stephen Purcell’s Shakespeare in the Theatre: Mark Rylance at the Globe. 

How did you buy it?

I didn’t. Birthday pressie.

And what did you read it on?

An ancient technology: paper.

What TV series are you obsessing over right now?

Actually, post-obsessing, after the last series of The Bridge.

Tell us what you do in 20 words.

I write and give talks about linguistics and languages, with a particular focus on all aspects of the English language.

Which is your favourite bookshop or e-bookstore and why?

Francis Edwards at Hay-on-Wye, which I visit yearly at Hay Festival time, and where I always find an old book on some linguisticky topic, as well as a host of fascinating distractions.

Go on, let us know your musical guilty pleasure.

Went to a concert last week by the amazing Dodo Street Band, and bought their CD. It’s become a favourite.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

No ‘would’ about it. It is out, called Just a Phrase I’m Going Through: My Life in Language.

What is the silliest thing you have on your desk?

A Gandalf doll, given to me by colleagues, who seemed to think there was a beardly resemblance.

Tell us about a passion you have outside the business.

Fostering the arts, especially theatre. I chair the board of trustees of the Ucheldre Centre, a community arts centre I helped to found in Holyhead. (Though, come to think of it, as the job is mainly fund-raising, I’m not sure ‘passion’ is the right word.)

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