Thursday, 14 May 2009

Just a Phrase I'm Going Through: My Life in Language by David Crystal

I finished this book last night. It's the autobiography of the language expert David Crystal - or is it his memoir? See his blog here for a discussion of these terms. This was a pretty interesting book because the emphasis was on applied rather than pure linguistics - how it could be of use in speech therapy for instance. The biographical elements were cleverly handled so that dramatic events were hinted at and then revealed in due course (some of them were tragic, unfortunately). Of interest to me as a cataloguer was Crystal's time spent working on a "sense engine" so that internet searches could be placed in context despite the varying meanings of words. I suppose this is a use of the controlled vocabulary that lies behind many web resources these days. He applied it also to contextual advertising (on sponsored webpages or forums you will see related advertising appearing depending on the words in use on the main page. As you can imagine this can lead to unfortunate juxtapositions if the vocabulary is not controlled).

Day 216; Book 213