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Cooking, Spelling and Sex...

Luglio 2013
Lo spelling è più affascinante del sesso... o almeno lo è stato per qualche ora! Spell It Out: The Singular History of English Spelling del linguista David Crystal ha superato nelle vendite, seppur per poco, il best seller Cinquanta sfumature di grigio e ha fatto il boom di ascolti in radio! Ce lo racconta Crystal in persona.

di Mark Worden


David Crystal
David Crystal

Speaker: Mark Worden (Standard British accent)

Linguist David Crystal is the author of the book, Spell It Out: The Singular History of English Spelling. As he explains, it was a surprising best seller:

David Crystal (Standard British accent)

When it first came out I was invited onto Radio 4 to speak on the Today programme, early in the morning, which itself is unusual. I mean... the Today programme, the breakfast programme, is one where politicians get harangued for their policies of the day, and so on, you know, linguistics doesn’t get a look in, usually, and certainly spelling, so I was very surprised to be asked, but anyway, we had a lovely five minutes or so talking about English spelling at 7 o’clock in the morning, but there we are! Anyway, one of the people listening to this programme was the producer of the Jeremy Vine show. Now, Jeremy Vine has a Radio 2 programme later in the day, a very popular programme, just before the lunchtime news. So they asked me to come on it, and I said “Sure,” “For five minutes,” they said. So I turn up at half past twelve at the studio and we talk about spelling and the book for four or five minutes, and just as we’re reaching the end, the editor rings through and says “Keep it going! Keep it going!” And Jeremy says, you know, “Why?” He says “We’ve never had so many phone calls and emails as we’re getting on the subject of spelling!” So Jeremy keeps it going, for half an hour! I’m there until 1 o’clock! And we’d have gone on beyond that, if it hadn’t been for the news! Because this subject was attracting so much popular interest. And as I left, the editor takes me on one side and says, “David,” he says, “Whenever somebody talks about a book on the Jeremy Vine show, there’s always a spike of sales on Amazon later in the day,” and I say “Spike? You know, people will buy a few copies, so it’ll go up from 10 to 20 copies... you know?” “No, you look out,” he says, “you look out,” So, anyway in the evening I do look up on Amazon and, sure enough, Spell It Out, a book on spelling, had become the fourth best-selling book in the entire Amazon list, ahead of Fifty Shades of Grey, the great porn book that was selling millions! And just behind Gordon Ramsay’s book on cooking. So here we have cooking, spelling and sex, in that order, just briefly, only for a few hours, I mean, sex manifested itself, its power later and became the power that it still is, and spelling is sort went down a bit, but for a few wonderful hours, spelling was ahead of the game. And I was amazed at this, I had never expected for one moment that a subject as apparently dry as English spelling, should attract such a popular appeal.

(David Crystal was talking to Mark Worden)

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