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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

4.1 (2465 )
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4.2 (1227 )
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4.3 (1214 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Steve Brewster, NY, USA 09-26-05
    Steve Brewster, NY, USA 09-26-05 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    144
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    "AMAZING !! The narrator deserves a medal !!!"

    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).

    75 of 84 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Reston, VA, USA 06-15-07
    Andrew Reston, VA, USA 06-15-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
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    5
    3
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    "Fascinating and engrossing!"

    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.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Pasadena, TX, USA 12-07-05
    Alan Pasadena, TX, USA 12-07-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "History class should have been like this!"

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William 02-09-06
    William 02-09-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved this."

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Naples, FL, USA 11-24-05
    David Naples, FL, USA 11-24-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "OUTSTANDING"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Dallas, TX, USA 11-19-05
    Thomas Dallas, TX, USA 11-19-05 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent Book!"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony DarlinghurstAustralia 04-09-07
    Tony DarlinghurstAustralia 04-09-07
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    "Fabulous Except For The Australian"

    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.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Olsen 05-14-09
    S. Olsen 05-14-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Great material"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janine Alexandria, VA, USA 12-27-07
    Janine Alexandria, VA, USA 12-27-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    "Awesome"

    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

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adriel Durham, N/A, United Kingdom 07-18-06
    Adriel Durham, N/A, United Kingdom 07-18-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    "Perfect for Audio"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • 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
  • L. Richardson
    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

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