As an American, I find this book a bit more difficult to grasp than a native of the U.K. would find; that having been said, I must say this narrator deserves an award of some kind - his ability to pronounce these words (in many dialects, some ancient) is amazing!
Great story line, quite entertaining and educational (even for a Yank).
This is definitely one of those books that is better listened to than read, and I agree with the previous reviews that the narrator is to be commended for his ability to pronounce obsolete words and arcane dialects. (Although I must admit that his attempts at an American accent made me cringe a bit.) My only other criticism is a tiny one: the author's claim that the Northeastern US more or less speaks a single, clear spoken dialect. As a native Bostonian, I must object! That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It gave me a new understanding and appreciation of my language and enough trivia fodder to make me a cocktail party liability for quite some time.
As an English speaker, I have always been interested in the path that this language took in it's development. The Adventure of English is a wonderful historical tracing of the lineage of a remarkable language. This work shows how historical facts intertwine with each other, and how that, in the case of English, the very language defined a people, shaped a culture, and preserved a nation. A great Audiobook - both enlightening and entertaining.
A fascinating history of English. I will purchase the paper version to accompany this the next time I listen.
What's most valuable about this audio book is that the narrator is an accomplished speaker, displaying an amazing range over the various accents, dialects and foreign languages contained in the text.
Listening to him was far more educational for me than actually reading, because in his voice I could hear the sounds of Old English and Middle English, Latin and so on. This made an impression that was greater than when I had seen these words on a page.
As I mentioned, I will purchase the paper version as well. This is the history of English, and for me (an American) it was very interesting (for example) to finally fit Chaucer into the historical context of England's history. This book is the history of English, but it is not restricted to the English people. The author includes North American and Australian English, too.
This journey with English was fascinating. The author brings the language to life . The research and his analysis was extensive. The vivid history of English in various settings made the book fun.
This is a fantastic book! It takes you a tour of how our language has evolved over time, truely fasinating!!! ..and like others have said, the narrator is a very gifted speaker.
Superbly written and read, this book turns what could be a dry subject into an exciting adventure. I didn't want it to stop. It was fascinating and wondrous. Poetic, and provocative. American English is treated with the respect it deserves, Shakespeare with freshness, and all through it all the English language is treated like a real hero, strong and determined, yet with large flaws such as a rapacious appetite for devouring other languages and spreading like an infection to places it was not invited. The author delivers a story that is inspiring, and gives language itself a humanity that makes it easy to relate to like an old friend.
The one serious flaw is that the author appears never to have lived long periods in various parts of Australia, for if he had, he would have discovered that the various books purporting to celebrate the Australian vernacular that have been published during the 20th century have more to do with a certain Australian mythology than anything else. City based authors report word usages that, like story's about levitation, are sworn to exist in some place beyond the black stump, but cannot normally be witnessed except when an Australian is 'bunging it on a bit'. Likewise writers from the country tend to exaggerate the bush culture for the benefit of outsiders.
By relying on these written reports and no doubt watching movies like 'The Adventures Of Barry MacKenzie', or 'They're A Weird Mob', the author seems to believe that Australians actually have spoken like this in real life. Maybe they do when living in Kings Cross, in London. This kind of larger than life Australianism bonds expatriates in a tribal manner. Back home in a Sydney suburb they often do the opposite when they return by 'putting on' an English affectation.
The section on Australian English was full of absurd phrases that I have never heard in my life, and, as described, was as foreign to me, as an Australian, as the author's native Northumbrian.
I am not a linguist and the lists of words did not interest me, but hearing the history through the angle of the language was very interesting. The infusion of foreign words in the language shows how great an influence the force or movement was on the minds of the english people. A good introduction and an enjoyable listen.
History and writers will absoultly enjoy this book. The narrator is also worth mentioning, as he lends a fun and witty aspect to the book. If you love history or just love to write, this book is for you
This is a great book to listen to. It's good to be able to listen to how the words actually sound, rather than trying to imagine what they would sound like when read off a page.
Enjoyed the book tremendously and highly recommend it.