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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 (2396 )
5 star
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Overall
4.2 (1165 )
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4.3 (1151 )
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2 star
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1 star
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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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    15
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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
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    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
    6
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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
    5
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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
    63
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    84
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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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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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    5
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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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  • Sally
    4/16/10
    Overall
    "Should be read"

    I think this book should be read and not listened to. It's a fascinating subject but one that lends itself to seeing the written word as well as hearing it in order to have an etymological understanding.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • STEVE
    1/25/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Organise Chapters Better"

    Book & performance BRILLIANT but chapters shown in app did not match chapters as read our

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alan Coady
    8/25/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "It's all about the sound"
    If you could sum up The Adventure of English in three words, what would they be?

    Logophile's anthropomorphic dream


    What did you like best about this story?

    This was a lesson in history as much as language. I had been unaware of the contributions of, say, Alfred (The Great) and Henry V to the preservation of the language.


    What about Robert Powell’s performance did you like?

    If anyone required convincing of the qualities of audio books vs. reading, this book would be my choice. Robert Powell is the ideal narrator to familiarise us with: Old-English; Middle-English; uses of English in America, Australia, India, Caribbean, Japan etc.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    You never knew it was in peril so many times...


    Any additional comments?

    This book prompted me to my first use of ‘Clips’ which can be shared with friends by email, txt, WhatsApp etc. Editing them is very straightforward, once you've experimented a little.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jo
    2/11/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Melvyn at his best!"

    Probably the best commentary on the English language ever. Melvyn Bragg at his best. Anyone who uses English for any reason should read this book.






    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • vickie hunter
    5/15/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating"

    An enjoyable and fascinating journey through the development of the English language. A social history which lubricates what could otherwise be a rather dry subject, with interesting facts and anecdotes. Extremely well read by Robert Powell.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fiona
    5/4/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Better than reading the book"

    Accents were essential for the meaning of the text. A job well done...
    This is an essential read for anyone who appreciates the written ( spoken) word.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • C. Edwards
    Leeds U.K.
    2/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A really interesting exploration"

    The origins of English. The way English has fit itself to it's users and been manipulated by groups was fascinating from start to finish.
    If you like English, etymology or linguistics this is a worthwhile listen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Phil
    Berkshire, England
    2/10/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Informatively riveting"

    I have been listening to this along with watching the television documentary. Obviously Melvyn Bragg presented the television programme and to hear from the author direct is far better than from a reader. But Robert Powell was excellent and clear in this, explaining the adventures about this wonderful language called English as I would expect from an actor of his calibre. And Mr Bragg is to be congratulated on this excellent book. A pleasure to listen to and much linguistic gossip now to spread!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • M. Griffiths
    12/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Pure pleasure"

    This is a gem!
    Bragg is personable and authoritative. He spins the information into an engaging narrative making this a great book with wide appeal.
    Robert Powell also does a great job with multiple accents and faultless delivery. I think that the audiobook would be better that the printed version for this reason.
    Other reviewers have complained about the lists; don't be put off by this they are not intrusive,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Catherine
    Torquay, Devon, United Kingdom
    10/26/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Can't get past first chapter"
    What disappointed you about The Adventure of English?

    Should only be read as it has long lists of words


    Would you be willing to try another one of Robert Powell’s performances?

    Robert Powell is great it's the content I can't cope with


    Any additional comments?

    Not good as an audio book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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