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The Adventure of English Audiobook

The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language

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Publisher's Summary

This is the remarkable story of the English language; from its beginnings as a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language. The Adventure of English is not only an enthralling story of power, religion, and trade, but also the story of people, and how their lives continue to change the extraordinary language that is English.

©2003 Melvyn Bragg; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Both entertaining and informative." (Booklist)
"This 'biography' succeeds in its broad, sweeping narrative." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (2132 )
5 star
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Overall
4.1 (919 )
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Story
4.3 (901 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    DavidOfOz 01-05-12
    DavidOfOz 01-05-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    "Theory OK but strained and then fails badly"
    What disappointed you about The Adventure of English?

    The adventure in English anthropomorphises the English language and is an interesting take on how English grew, was challenged and became the international tongue it is today. However, once Bragg gets onto the translation of the Bible into English he loses all objectivity. The Church didn't fight Wycliffe because he made an ENGLISH translation. It was because he made a very bad translation and wanted a destructive transformation of society in line with his faulty translation of the Scriptures. At this point there was little need to continue. If Bragg can get this area so wrong, how can I trust the rest of his story?


    What about Robert Powell’s performance did you like?

    Robert Powell does an amazing job of pronouncing all the examples in the appropriate Old English, Dutch, German, French and other accents. Very well read.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I was very disappointed that Bragg could so fall for religious propaganda of the reformation period and not attempt to delve a little deeper. If the Church wanted to keep the scriptures from the people, as Bragg claims, why did they have all the artwork and stained glass windows depicting bible stories and lessons? Most people couldn't read, so even if the bible was in English, it wouldn't have helped. The Church was the main source of learning and instructions to read so more could come to love the scriptures.
    I was so amazed, the book has been removed from my system, as such a basic misunderstanding of history makes his whole argument flawed.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Sweet 12-16-11
    J. Sweet 12-16-11 Member Since 2009

    wordgeek

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    11
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    "Engaging"

    Recomend for anyone who is interested in language or history, and since the two are always braided together, you won't be disappointed by this book. The narration is superb, which makes listening to this book much better than reading so you don't have to muddle your way through the pronunciation of ancient "gutteral Germanic" words.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Amen-Ra Damascus, MD, United States 10-16-11
    Dr. Amen-Ra Damascus, MD, United States 10-16-11 Member Since 2016

    An enlightened ascetic who loves language and learning.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "All lovers of language will laud this book."

    A masterpiece of meticulous linguistic and historical research made intelligible to the interested laymen. So exquisite is the elocution of the narrator, so impressive is his mastery of several spoken languages, that it must be heard, not merely read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Cupertino, CA, United States 09-26-11
    Michael Cupertino, CA, United States 09-26-11 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dull and should be read not heard"

    This book was such a disappointment. Perhaps the second half would have been better but I couldn't get there. I am shocked that it received high ratings from others - what a disappointment. I want my credits back!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kat Oxnard, CA 09-13-11
    Kat Oxnard, CA 09-13-11 Listener Since 2008

    Kat K

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Tedium"

    This suffers in comparison to the Great Lectures series on the History of the English language. Those lectures kept me awake and interested. This was soporific rather than an adventure. (An anesthetic, balmy, calming, deadening, dozy, drowsy, dull, hypnotic, mesmerizing, narcotic, nodding, numbing, opiate, quietening, sedative, slumberous, snoozy, somniferous, somnolent, soothing, tranquilizing).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherin Victoria, BC, Canada 08-26-11
    Catherin Victoria, BC, Canada 08-26-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Excellent"

    A fine story and finely told. The only problem I had with this book is that it was too short.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica Cooper San Jose, CA 06-08-11
    Jessica Cooper San Jose, CA 06-08-11 Member Since 2013

    Jessie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining and lovely to listen to"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimble Louisville, KY, United States 05-01-11
    Kimble Louisville, KY, United States 05-01-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Diagnosis of the English Language"

    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".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cathy Midrand, South Africa 03-15-11
    Cathy Midrand, South Africa 03-15-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "A brilliant adventure in English"

    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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Gorham, ME, United States 03-10-11
    Stephanie Gorham, ME, United States 03-10-11 Member Since 2005
    ratings
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    14
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    "Disappointing"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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