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Old 1st Jun 2011, 13:51   #1
Lucoid
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Default Melvyn Bragg: The Adventure of English

I've been meaning to tell you all for a while how much I enjoyed Melvyn Bragg's The Adventure of English. It's very rare that I read non-fiction, but this was really worth it - a mostly accessible way to indulge my word-geekiness and improve my general knowledge, as Bragg took me for a lovely romp through the story of the development of the English language, explaining how we got from old English to middle English to modern English with all its various dialects, including the influences of other languages from all those pesky invaders we had and all the colonising we did. His treatment is pleasingly inclusive, and all the more fascinating for it, covering American English and other forms, such as those of the Caribbean, as different dialects, and touches on how dramatically the language can still change, especially now with the growth of the internet and email (it was published in 2000, I think, so social networking doesn't get a mention).

Even though it's not written in a boring, academic style or full of specialist info, there was the odd reference I didn't get that I would have appreciated a brief explanation of, but often those points were expanded on later (infuriatingly in a way that suggested very strongly that there had been last-minute editorial changes so the later reference would have originally been the first one) and other than that I found it surprisingly engaging (though I think Mr Lucoid got quite fed up with me interrupting his own bed-time reading to read him passages).
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Old 1st Jun 2011, 20:05   #2
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Default Re: Melvyn Bragg: The Adventure of English

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucoid View Post
(it was published in 2000, I think
With an accompanying television programme over four weeks.
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Old 2nd Jun 2011, 0:39   #3
Colyngbourne
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Default Re: Melvyn Bragg: The Adventure of English

Thanks for reminding me about this, Lucoid. Having read a slightly different thing - The English by Jeremy Paxman - recently, this is virtually next to it on the shelf and is probably a better read again.
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Old 2nd Jun 2011, 13:25   #4
Lucoid
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Default Re: Melvyn Bragg: The Adventure of English

Glad to have been of service! I was actually reminded that I hadn't yet posted a review when I read a piece in The Radio Times taking a surprisingly positive standpoint on the use of text messages and the way it's starting to influence the way people communicate. I'd love to see if the column's on the RT website but for some reason I can't access it.

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With an accompanying television programme over four weeks.
Ah yes, he mentions that in the intro, where he explains that TAoE follows on from his BBC Radio 4 programme The Routes of English 'whose general starting point was the way in which English had changed and developed on the tongue':

Quote:
There was, though I thought, another set of programmes I wanted to make, programmes which would describe the history of English, combining, I hoped, the history I had read at university with the English I had read before, during and since. ITV accepted this as a series. Although this book is far fuller than the programmes I wrote, it is based on their structure, which I decided early on would work best as an adventure story.
I got the publication year wrong, by the way, it was actually 2003.

Also, I clearly didn't do a thorough-enough search before I started this thread, as it seems there was some discussion about Bragg's work some time ago, here, though TAoE wasn't mentioned and general opinion seems to be less favourable than my own impressions.
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