©2003 Melvyn Bragg; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
"Both entertaining and informative." (Booklist)
"This 'biography' succeeds in its broad, sweeping narrative." (Publishers Weekly)
This was a great listen. Being British and having a mother with a very "proper" accent and a father with a lovely Scottish accent made this book an even better adventure. It gave me a clear understanding of many of the odd terms and quotes and sayings which are such a part of our family. If you are from anywhere in Britain you will marvel at the reader's command of dialects both ancients and modern. I really enjoy it when I can learn a lot from a book and be entertained at the same time.
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.
l'enfer c'est les autres
This book is not just for lovers of words (of which I am not), but it has a great history of the English speaking peoples interwoven with it, and that will be enough to keep non-word lovers like me completely interested.
Yes, the reading does get off to a slow start, but don't stop there. The ponderous listing of words at the outset is well overbalanced by the gloriously entertaining volume of information about the evolution and spread and variation of the English language from early to present day, from England outward. If you have any curiosity about the language, you will certainly be spell-bound by the writing and--especially--the reading of this book. I think it will bear many hearings, my marque of a good book, particularly a good audio-book.
Wonderful, fascinating, enlightening. Brilliantly read. A few boring parts (to my mind) that required wading through, but this is in my personal audible download hall of fame.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
Goes far beyond the usual textbook renderings to bring the history of the language alive
I loved it. The author moves the story along at a fairly quick pace, with lots of entertaining details along the way. Pretty fascinating, I thought. The narrator is A+
I enjoyed this book. It is sometime quite complex with all examples and names, forcing you to rewind many times in order to be able to follow it and not lose track completely. It creates a good balance between the scholarly and the popular.
Althought I still have an hour or two left,I am confident this book will continue to be great. I thought this would be a good book to fall asleep to but it acually holds my interest quite well. French ,Latin, Greek and other languages English has borrowed words from are all covered. The narrator as stated keeps the interest high with lively reading.
I loved this book - not only as a history of the English language but of England and the British Empire. And it shows how closely tied we are to our past - even in our choice of words. The narrator did a great job - although there were some glaring mispronunciations of a few Australian words.
If you are an english speaker you owe it to yourself to hear this gripping tale of a swashbuckling language and it's rise to dominance.
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