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David Crystal, (born 6 July 1941) is a British linguist, academic, and author.
Crystal was born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, on 6 July 1941 after his mother had been evacuated there during The Blitz. Before he reached the age of one, his parents separated. He remained estranged from and ignorant of his father for most of his childhood, but later learnt (through work contacts and a half-brother) of the life and career of Dr. Samuel Crystal in London, and of his half-Jewish heritage. He grew up with his mother in Holyhead, North Wales, and Liverpool, England, where he attended St Mary's College from 1951. Crystal is a practising Roman Catholic.
He currently lives in Holyhead with his wife, Hilary, a former speech therapist and now children's author. He has four grown-up children. His son Ben Crystal is also an author, and has co-authored three books with his father.
Crystal has authored, co-authored, and edited over 120 books on a wide variety of subjects, specialising among other things in editing reference works, including (as author) the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (1987, 1997, 2010) and the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (1995, 2003, 2019), and (as editor) the Cambridge Biographical Dictionary, the Cambridge Factfinder, the Cambridge Encyclopedia, and the New Penguin Encyclopedia (2003). He has also written plays and poetry. He has published several books for the general reader about linguistics and the English language, which use varied graphics and short essays to communicate technical material in an accessible manner. In his article "What is Standard English", Crystal hypothesises that, globally, English will both split and converge, with local variants becoming less mutually comprehensible and therefore necessitating the rise of what he terms World Standard Spoken English (see also International English).
In his 2004 book The Stories of English, a general history of the English language, he describes the value he sees in linguistic diversity and the according of respect to varieties of English generally considered "non-standard". In 2009 Routledge published his autobiographical memoir Just a Phrase I'm Going Through: My Life in Language, which was released simultaneously with a DVD of three of his lectures. His book Spell It Out: The Curious, Enthralling and Extraordinary Story of English Spelling (2013) explains why some English words are difficult to spell. His companion book, Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation came out in 2015 from Profile Books (UK) and St. Martin's Press (USA).
From 2001 to 2006, Crystal served as the Chairman of Crystal Reference Systems Limited, a provider of reference content and Internet search and advertising technology. The company's iSense and Sitescreen products are based upon the patented Global Data Model, a complex semantic network that Crystal devised in the early 1980s and was adapted for use on the Internet in the mid 1990s. These include semantic targeting technology (marketed as iSense by ad pepper media) and brand protection technology (marketed as SiteScreen by Emediate ApS). The iSense technology is the subject of patents in the United Kingdom and the United States. After the company's acquisition by Ad Pepper Media N.V., he remained on the board as its R&D director until 2009.
Crystal was influential in a campaign to save Holyhead's convent from demolition, leading to the creation of the Ucheldre Centre.
Crystal, David (1996). Discover Grammar. London: Longman.
Crystal, David (1996). The Cambridge Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Crystal, David (ed.) (2002). The New Penguin Encyclopedia. London: Penguin.
Crystal, David and Crystal, Ben (2002). Shakespeare's Words: A Glossary and Language Companion. London: Penguin.
Crystal, David (ed.) (2003). The Penguin Concise Encyclopedia. London: Penguin.
Crystal, David (ed.) (2003). The New Penguin Factfinder. London: Penguin.
Crystal, David (2004). Making Sense of Grammar. London: Pearson Longman.
Crystal, David (2004). A Glossary of Netspeak and Textspeak. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
Crystal, David (2004). The Penguin Book of Facts. London: Penguin.
Crystal, David (2005). Penguin Pocket Spelling Dictionary. London: Penguin Reference.
Crystal, David (2005). Dr Johnson's Dictionary: an Anthology. London: Penguin Classics.
Crystal, David (ed.) (2005). The Penguin Concise Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Reference.
Crystal, David (ed.) (2005). Pocket Quotations. London: Penguin Reference.
Crystal, David (ed.) (2005). Pocket Facts. London: Penguin Reference.
Crystal, David (ed.) (2006). Penguin Pocket On This Day. London: Penguin Reference.
Crystal, David (ed.) (2006). Penguin Pocket Kings and Queens. London: Penguin Reference.
Crystal, David (ed.) (2006). Penguin Pocket Famous People. London: Penguin Reference.
Fowler, H.W., Crystal, David (ed.) (2009). Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Reprint of 1926 1st ed.)
Crystal, David and Crystal, Ben (2015). Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Crystal, David (2016). The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Critical studies and reviews
Morrisby, Edwin (October 1995). "A gallimaufry of Englishes". Books. Quadrant. 39 (10): 84-86. Cite has empty unknown parameters: |1= and |authormask= (help) Review of The Cambridge encyclopedia of the English language.