©2003 Melvyn Bragg; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
"Both entertaining and informative." (Booklist)
"This 'biography' succeeds in its broad, sweeping narrative." (Publishers Weekly)
The author did a wonderful job writing an entertaining history of the English language and the narrator truly adds to the experience. Hearing the comparisons between English words to the words in other languages from which they evolved is wonderful. I'll admit that as an American I'm learning a fair amount of British history along the way as well.
The book answers the fundamental question why English outshines all other languages and why it is the "reserve linguistic currency" of the civilized world. Bragg does this not only by (pedantically) charting the sequential evolution of the language but also by describing its singular adaptability to its changing habitat, up to the modern day. A people gets the kind of language it deserves. A good companion piece would be Churchill's "A History of the English Speaking Peoples".
I have a physical copy of this book, which I found quite heavy going - however, Robert Powell's narration made all the difference. He manages to get his tongue around Old English so well that I actually understood the words, even though they are so different to the English of today. The tale of the growth of the language is fast paced and exciting, with many new insights. I did find the odd list of words quite tiresome at first, until I understood why they were included.
Overall, I think this is an excellent book for anyone who loves the English language, and wants to understand its roots
The section of the book on early English is very good. Unfortunately, the section on American English was so poorly researched that I had to stop listening to the book. Many of the derivations claimed for American words were urban legends and were wrong.
I expected a bit more on the mechanics behind the formation of our language, and hoped that it would delve into the various accents of regional dialects. There was some of that there, but not much and only intermitedly. Also, the author repeatedly made analogies that made it sound as though English were a person ( stuff like "and so our language preserved the norman conquest and overcame the conquerors", hooray), which often served as the whole explanation for why English formed the way it did. I found that irritating.
Very interesting. I thought I had a good understanding of the origin of English but I was clearly wrong. This work is aimed at a UK audience and the author's use of the collective "we" to mean the English people can be a little disconcerting at times for an American audience. Still I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I am a retired high school computer teacher. After years of tech reading, I have given up reading for listening while I woodworking.
This is a wonderfully written and fantastically read book about something that could have been dryly intellectual. It is so worth the read just to find out where many of our common phrases actually came from. Robert Powell executes the dialog magnificently.
I don't read much non-fiction, but this book held my attention. I'm not sure I learned much new, but it was entertaining and interesting.
This is the first audiobook that I will listen to again. The narrator, Robert Powell, has an amazing gift for correct linguistic pronunciation that covers a wide spectrum of contributory languages that form our present language. As a lifelong student of language, I found this book to be an extraordinary treat! Were it possible, I would give a higher rating.
I am no linguist, just a person with a curious interest in history and odd facts. This book satiates my appetite for both. It personifies "English" into a sortof person, striving to survive the ages, despite a wild attack on it from all sides at every turn. I love the way the author has created suspense throughout, as though we don't know whether it will survive in the end or not! And what a great review of history, putting it all in perspective with how English fared at each time period.
I enjoy the reader's voice, and his pronunciations are quite amazing and necessarily good for the understanding of the book. I don't think I would have nearly as much understanding were it not for this, so I am glad to have the audiobook instead of the printed version.
While not being a murder mystery or suspense thriller, this book is surprisingly engaging. Enjoy!
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
Report Inappropriate Content