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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 (2516 )
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Performance
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  •  
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 06-01-12
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 06-01-12

    Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!

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    "Adventure Indeed"

    I really enjoyed this listen. Without being dry or overly scholarly, this book offers a wealth of information in a most entertaining way.
    There's much here about the growth of English and especially about the brilliance of the language in adopting and adapting from other tongues. I loved the emphasis on the variety and importance of the dialects through history - and this narrator is wonderful at giving examples!
    How fortunate we are to have this huge, sloppy, constantly changing English. This read makes me appreciate everything I hear and read even more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    05-29-12
    05-29-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Fascinating journey into the origins and history"
    Would you listen to The Adventure of English again? Why?

    There were so many interesting stories about how words, phrases and other facets of the language emerged, I would enjoy re-reading it to be reminded of them.


    Any additional comments?

    Would be enjoyed by anyone who finds words and their origins interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Percy Orlando, FL 05-22-12
    Percy Orlando, FL 05-22-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting things about English"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Adventure of English to be better than the print version?

    I haven't read the print version, but I know this was better. Robert Powell speaks all of the languages and dialects so well ..... they come alive.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I'm a Soldier in Afghanistan. I’ve been on an adventure. No not in Afghanistan, thought the same could be said my stay here. This is “The Adventure of English”, a book that I have undertaken by Melvyn Bragg. Without TV for distraction when I am not exercising or working during my average day from 5 AM until 10 PM I read for recreation. In the 9 months I’ve been here that has taken me through 51 paper books, eBooks and audio books. In the over 5640 pages and 276 hours of listening, few books have been as interesting, entertaining and informative as “The Adventure of English”. If you are a reader, listener or interested in amazing historical stories this book is well worth the cost in money and time. You’ll be surprised at what has gone into creating the language we speak today. PGP


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Corley Mobile, AL 05-17-12
    Andrew Corley Mobile, AL 05-17-12 Member Since 2011

    Systems Engineer

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    "Compelling, humorous story and great performance"

    This is a great story about the evolution of the English language. The author clearly loves the language and revels in its adaptability and flexibility.

    He reviews major players that have influenced the language: Tyndale, Wycliffe, King James, Shakespeare.

    If you are interested in understanding the English Language, then this is definitely a worthwhile purchase.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Gouverneur Amherst, MA United States 05-04-12
    Elizabeth Gouverneur Amherst, MA United States 05-04-12 Member Since 2008
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    "History of English told as a good detective story"
    If you could sum up The Adventure of English in three words, what would they be?

    Fascinating, unexpected, scholarly


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The writer himself. His enthusiasm for his subject, the development of the English language, enlivened what could have been a dry tale. He knew when to draw on one of the personalities in history (Alfred the Great, Chaucer, a British bureaucrat in India) and even his own childhood experiences as a speaker of an English dialect to put us into that period as it was experienced at the time.


    Have you listened to any of Robert Powell’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not, but I'd happily listen to him again. He did a particularly masterful job pronouncing the many words from Norse, Old English, French, or even 20th c. dialects that turned up regularly in the text.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. As a history it was nice to have the centuries unfold and take time to digest each period.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is full of nuggets of information that I kept wanting to share. The scope is broad, and slightly less strong in the most recent centuries, but the first two thirds are riveting. The author treats the language as an almost living thing, evolving through periods of explosive growth, or responding to threats of extinction, taking us through all the unexpected twists in its development like a proud parent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr Dapper Tulsa, Oklahom, USA 05-01-12
    Mr Dapper Tulsa, Oklahom, USA 05-01-12 Member Since 2012

    I keep my self rather busy and love how a good book can unplug me from reality just enough to remember I'm alive.

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    "Great Read"
    What made the experience of listening to The Adventure of English the most enjoyable?

    I have never really liked the English language for more reasons than it was the only class I failed growing up. Though I love writing I just didn't appreciate it, and though I still find it lacking qualities that that other languages may have I love what it took to get it here. The adventure that English has taken to get to this point is rather amazing. The book is way better as an audio book due in part to the many different languages spoken throughout the book. But i do say that the visual aids given in the book are great companions as you listen. Best book for me thus far this year.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    the fight between French and English


    Which scene was your favorite?

    i really liked the sware words section. was very informitive.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara 04-16-12
    Barbara 04-16-12 Member Since 2012
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    "A real treat"
    What did you love best about The Adventure of English?

    The history of English is fascinating, but even better when narrated by someone who seems able to fluently read in all the different dialects. I am sure I would not have enjoyed this book reading it myself and struggling to attempt the various dialects, since I am not a student of those languages. Hearing the old languages spoken fluentlyadded another dimension to the experience.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip Upper Hutt, New Zealand 04-16-12
    Philip Upper Hutt, New Zealand 04-16-12 Member Since 2011
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    "A most original idea for a biography...."
    What did you love best about The Adventure of English?

    This was quite a departure from Melvin Braggs novels; unexpectedly a refreshing change. It made me marvel at our language and how it had evolved - in a rather Darwinian way. Now I do understand a lot more than I did about the curious anomalies we have acquired in our language and why it is so impossibly 'irregular'. Very well researched (from my lay point of view anyway).


    What other book might you compare The Adventure of English to and why?

    I cannot think of any I have read like this.


    What about Robert Powell’s performance did you like?

    Truly wonderful. Quite impressed by his ability to convey this complex language within its historical context - especially his convincing attempts at old English. One wonders how much Direction from Bragg was given.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No extreme ones but then it was a field I knew nothing about so I found it enlightening and educational. I could not stop listening. That is always my marker for a good book.


    Any additional comments?

    No. Well worth the read especially if you are interested in linguistics or just want to know where our language came from and how it evolved to modern times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kaye E Steeno New Braunfels, TX, US 04-12-12
    Kaye E Steeno New Braunfels, TX, US 04-12-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Well researched"

    I enjoyed this history of the English language. It is well narrated. If you have an interest in this subject, this book does an excellent job in telling it from the beginning to today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jann Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand 04-11-12
    Jann Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand 04-11-12
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    "Outstanding Listen"
    What made the experience of listening to The Adventure of English the most enjoyable?

    The reader was fantastic and I loved listening to the old dialects


    What other book might you compare The Adventure of English to and why?

    I have listened to this book 3 times already as there is such a vast amount of different areas he covers


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I loved the section on Australia, although each section was great in its own right


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    N/A


    Any additional comments?

    I have recommended this book to all of my friends. You don't have to love English or history to enjoy this book. It is so interesting on so many levels

    0 of 0 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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