We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
The Adventure of English Audiobook

The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language

Regular Price:$26.30
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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
 (899)
4 star
 (697)
3 star
 (337)
2 star
 (119)
1 star
 (80)
Overall
4.1 (919 )
5 star
 (420)
4 star
 (293)
3 star
 (133)
2 star
 (45)
1 star
 (28)
Story
4.3 (901 )
5 star
 (477)
4 star
 (251)
3 star
 (113)
2 star
 (42)
1 star
 (18)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Amazon Customer Charleston, SC, United States 03-01-11
    Amazon Customer Charleston, SC, United States 03-01-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    113
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    "Interesting, but not what I expected"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Smith Coatesville, PA, United States 02-28-11
    R. Smith Coatesville, PA, United States 02-28-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Highly Informative"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William 02-21-11
    William 02-21-11

    I am a retired high school computer teacher. After years of tech reading, I have given up reading for listening while I woodworking.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    134
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Enlightening"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K.D. Keenan Northern California 01-29-11
    K.D. Keenan Northern California 01-29-11 Member Since 2007

    1emp

    HELPFUL VOTES
    170
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    91
    70
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    8
    0
    Overall
    "Great Read for English Nerds"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Phoenix, AZ, United States 01-22-11
    Michael Phoenix, AZ, United States 01-22-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "A linguistic delight!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janna Lansdale, PA, United States 12-27-10
    Janna Lansdale, PA, United States 12-27-10 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    67
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    155
    52
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    9
    0
    Overall
    "surprisingly engaging"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen M. Lind Hillsboro, OR United States 12-21-10
    Ellen M. Lind Hillsboro, OR United States 12-21-10 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    196
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Not an original concept"

    Start with Bill Bryson???s 1990 gem ???The Mother Tongue???; remove Bryson???s trademark humor and substitute a scholarly tone; use many of the same sources and examples, but drop some and expand some others; include a few (but surprising few) examples from the dozen years between the two publication dates. There you have Bragg???s The Adventure of English. It was good, it was interesting, but it wasn???t original.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Bennett 12-19-10
    D. Bennett 12-19-10 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Engaging but long winded"

    This book gives an approachable survey of the evolution of English. I learned many things, such as the strong influence of French on English via the Norman Conquest. The author speaks from a British perspective. If you are not familiar with, say, the Battle of Hastings, you may want to consult Wikipedia as you go along.

    I grew bored during the second half of the book, and felt I had to slog to the finish line. This may be because, as the author moves forward in time, the history becomes more familiar. While it was interesting to learn about the language of the Wild West cowboys, I found this part less engaging because I already knew about them.

    The book could say as much as it does in about 2/3 of the space. The periodic rhapsodies to the power of English can wear thin after a while. Nonetheless, I don't regret reading it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    reball01 12-09-10
    reball01 12-09-10 Member Since 2014

    I listen while driving. When I review, I'm much more apt to discuss the performance than the content. Sometimes, a bit of both.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    52
    23
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Well written, well read!"

    Good recording! Probably one of those books best enjoyed audibly rather than in writing. Robert Powell does well with various accents and inflections. If you love languages and English in particular then this will be quite a treat!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald CORTEZ, FL, United States 11-28-10
    Ronald CORTEZ, FL, United States 11-28-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Fascinating"

    The English language, languages and the derivation and evolution of words have always intrigued me, so as a sort of closet linguist I just want to say how much I am enjoying this audio book, it is just fascinating and offers up an incredible wealth of information on the durable and ever evolving English language and it's history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Francis
    Liverpool, United Kingdom
    9/13/06
    Overall
    "All the voices"

    This is not perhaps the most obvious choice for an audio book but it proves in fact to be an excellent work to listen to.Melvyn Bragg writes in a way that is a model of intelligent popularisation : without ever being either too technical or patronisingly simple he conveys much information about the history of the English language in a way that will entertain and instruct anyone with any degree of interest in the subject.Robert Powell -always a most competent and intelligent reader-copes superbly with what is often a difficult text.He manfully does his best to impart interest even to the long lists of words that occur in some chapters, but where he excels particularly is in the plausible rendition that he gives of the various dialects and languages related to English - his Frisian and Anglo-Saxon may or may not satisfy experts but they sound most convincing.He clearly enjoyed the challenge of conveying how differently English did and does sound. With such expert reading this is one of the occasions when an audio book has a distinct advantage over the silent printed text.If you have any interest in our language, you will enjoy this work and this reading.

    108 of 108 people found this review helpful
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    12/7/07
    Overall
    "Outstandingly well-read and enjoyable journey"

    Melvyn Bragg writes in an accessible style well-suited to be read aloud. He has been well-served by the reader, Robert Powell, who has brought the book alive by his outstanding ability to pronounce all the variants of English that can only be depicted by phonetic symbols on the page. The use of the word 'Adventure' in the title is apposite as the book is as lively as a good historical novel.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • Anne
    Sk?ndalSweden
    7/29/09
    Overall
    "Fascinating language"

    I had a hard time learning English but when I came to the stage I was able to read and listen without using my dictionary and still understand it I became more and more interested in the history of the language; both the development and the paralels I see in my own language.

    Now I have both read and listened to this book. It's worth it!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    Beulah, United Kingdom
    1/26/09
    Overall
    "Very educational"

    Fascinating book, which captures a mass of interesting facts about the English language inside a well narrated and informative history. Highly recommend it to someone interested in the roots of the language from the 5th century onwards - this is a very accessible listen and I would go so far as to say it is indeed an adventure to listen to. It touches on the way English spans the globe in it's many forms and derivatives and why it is such an extensive, flexible language.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Lyndsey
    La Chapelle NeuveFrance
    9/17/10
    Overall
    "Great for language enthusiasts"

    Really enjoyable for anyone who likes history or languages. As a teacher of English as a foreign language, it was very interesting to pick out all the influences and words from other languages that have made up English. Long may that continue!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Caro
    Cornwall
    8/27/09
    Overall
    "Great book, great narration"

    I keep going back to listen to this book. It is so interesting and a product of lots of research that doesn't become tedious, although the lists of words probably work better on the page. But that aside, I love it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Bushey, Herts, United Kingdom
    3/2/08
    Overall
    "A great accompaniment to any journey"

    I found the Bragg Powell combination very enjoyable. I thought Powell produced passable attempts at the European pronunciations, but my Caribbean wife and I had to laugh at some of the creole and pigeon he produced. Small criticism though and it even at times added to the listening experience. The news that we British communicated officially in French until Edward 1st was quite a surprise. Heartily recommended

    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • John Blackmore
    Ely, UK
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Fascinating"

    A really good listen for anyone interested in the English language. Some of the information presented I already knew but overall I realize how little I knew about my own language. As always the narration is as important as the book itself. Robert Powell can always be relied upon to keep me interested. I will certainly be listening to this book again.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mr Angry
    10/31/09
    Overall
    "In a word"

    I first bought this title because I thought it would teach me something about the reason why we talk the way we do. It did far more than that. Robert Powell is an excellent choice for the reader. After listening to the book I bought a copy and tried to work my way through some of the Old English sections. I found that Robert's mastery of the dialects and phrases helped me enjoy it more and make sense of it. Melvyn Bragg has written an extremely accessable account of our language that incorporates mystery, warfare,domination,robbery and the ability of our language to expand using other languages.
    Of special interest are the chapters on American and Australian English.
    Excellent title.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Patricia
    Kendal, United Kingdom
    8/15/09
    Overall
    "Why didn't I enjoy this?"

    Fascinating subject, full of facts - so why didn't I enjoy it? I nearly didn't make it past the first chapter. Perhaps it's better read on the page than listened to? The endless lists, for example. And too many examples per fact (yes we've got the point, thank you). Or maybe this book is of more interest to a non-native speaker/lover of English Language. I really don't know, but this is the most disappointing talking book for me so far.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.