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A Profile of David Crystal

David Crystal works from his home in Holyhead, North Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster. Born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland in 1941, he spent his early years in Holyhead. His family moved to Liverpool in 1951, and he received his secondary schooling at St Mary's College. He read English at University College London (1959-62), specialized in English language studies, did some research there at the Survey of English Usage under Randolph Quirk (1962-3), then joined academic life as a lecturer in linguistics, first at Bangor, then at Reading. He published the first of his 60 or so books in 1964, and became known chiefly for his research work in English language studies, in such fields as intonation and stylistics, and in the application of linguistics to religious, educational and clinical contexts, notably in the development of a range of linguistic profiling techniques for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. He held a chair at the University of Reading for 10 years, and is now Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. These days he divides his time between work on language and work on general reference publishing.

David Crystal's authored works are mainly in the field of language, including several Penguin books, but he is perhaps best known for his two encyclopedias for Cambridge University Press, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. His most recent authored books are Language Play (1998), Language Death (2000), on the world’s endangered languages, and Words on Words (2000, a dictionary of language quotations compiled with his wife and business-partner, Hilary). Language and the Internet will appear in September 2001. He was founder-editor of the Journal of Child Language, Child Language Teaching and Therapy, and Linguistics Abstracts, and has edited several book series, such as Penguin Linguistics and Blackwell's Language Library. His clinical books includes Introduction to Language Pathology, Profiling Linguistic Disability, Clinical Linguistics, and Linguistic Encounters with Language Handicap. His work for schools includes the Skylarks, Databank, and Datasearch programmes, Nineties Knowledge, Language A to Z, and Discover Grammar. His creative writing includes some volumes of devotional poetry; a biography of the Bon Sauveur foundation in Wales, Convent; and a play, Living On, also on the endangered languages theme; and he is currently editing the poetry of the African missionary John Bradburne, two books of which have been published. He is also the editor of several general encyclopedias in the Cambridge University Press family, including The Cambridge Encyclopedia, The Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia, and The Cambridge Factfinder, and is currently developing the encyclopedia database for electronic media in association with AND International Publishers. His current project as an author include a glossary of Shakespeare’s language (in collaboration with his actor son, Ben).

David Crystal is currently chair of the UK National Literacy Association (NLA), patron of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) and of the National Association of Professionals concerned with Language Impaired Children (NAPLIC). He is past president of the International Association of Forensic Phonetics and of the Society of Indexers. He is also a member of the Board of the British Council and of the English Language Committee of the English-Speaking Union. He received an OBE for services to the English language in 1995, and was made a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2000. He now lives in Holyhead, where he is the director of the Ucheldre Centre, a multi-purpose arts and exhibition centre. He is married with five children.

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