THE ADVENTURE OF ENGLISH
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The life story of a remarkable language
Join Melvyn Bragg and a host of experts as they explore the vibrant 1,500-year history of the English language. How did it grow from a relatively insignificant Germanic dialect to become the premier language of culture, commerce, and diplomacy around the globe? The answer involves bloody conquest, political intrigue, and plenty of creativity.
Renowned authorities such as Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, cofounder of the Royal Shakespeare Company John Barton, and Elizabethan scholar Katherine Duncan-Jones explain the development of English in entertaining detail. In this fascinating, eight-part documentary, Bragg and his colleagues examine the life of the language, showing how diverse forces--from Beowulf to the Bible, from Shakespeare to American slang--shaped the way we communicate today.
- 20-page viewer’s guide includes key points, discussion questions, avenues for further learning, "The Evolution of the English Alphabet" essay, and more.
- "Architects of the Language" biographies
- Exclusive web extras
A prolific author, screenwriter, and broadcaster, Melvyn Bragg serves as president of Great Britain’s National Campaign for the Arts and chair of the Arts Council Literature Panel. He has hosted The South Bank Show, Britain’s leading arts program, for over 30 years.
View an Excerpt from the Guide Included with The Adventure of English
The Adventure of English
Top Customer Reviews
This is an educational product, but the presentation is filled with on-location footage from around the world, making it a richly beautiful, historical, and travelogue-like documentary experience. It is captivating as it continues, minute by minute, presenting common and seldom-used vocabulary, their meanings, and origins. Many surprises, more than countable, will enlighten any viewer.
Who'd-a-thought that "bulldozer" originally referred to the full-measure of a whipping which a bull could take, but was administered to American slaves, often causing death? A far cry from a piece of heavy equipment. "Dr. Johnson" at one point was a name given to a body part only identifiable as male. And, "nip" is a word yet to be included into a dictionary, or completely defined the way youth in the UK are using it.
2000 of today's common words were first used by Shakespeare and the Oxford Dictionary now holds approximately 3/4 of a million words. Shakespeare's longest word was "honorificabilitudinitatibus" meaning with honor. William Tyndale's 1526 Bible translation from the original Hebrew and Greek provided readership for English reading common worshipers.Read more ›
I am sorry to say that the other excellent series on the subject The Story of English is not available on DVD at this time. Both are worth every minute of the hours of time to view them.
Germanic tribes stepped into the void, taking the land and subjugating the people to a new language.
But in one of those strange quirks with which history is so fond, the language of the tribes became only a part of the language their new land. While an excellent exploration of these early days can be found in John McWhorter's recent English Our Bastard Tongue, a vibrant and exciting treatment of this same time can also be found here in this series.
In the wake of this Germanic invasion Old English had a great Renaissance of sorts culminating in an age of scholarship and artistic expression best known today for the creation of the Beowulf story.
In 1066, another invasion by William the Conqueror, put English on ice for nearly three hundred years while French became the main language of the realm. We still see the impact of this French control in words like magistrate and arrest and other important terms still used in our legal system today.
By the 1380s the still prevalence of common English usage resulted in the creation of an English language Bible written by John Wycliffe. Even though it was banned by the church the Bible was a popular success and did much to start the process of standardizing a common written English.
This standardization got a hand from the crown itself when James I commissioned a royal Bible...the King James Edition (which drew from the Wycliffe edition and also one by Tyndale in the fourteen hundreds). It was also aided in no small measure by the work of William Shakespeare whose 38 plays still resonate through literary history serving as the gold standard for both great theatre and great writing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just took English for granted until I read it's history. Very enjoyable viewing.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Amazing, dense with information, easy to follow even for younger students.Published 1 month ago by julija
First watched this on A&E years ago. Wonderful documentary on the history and evolution of the English language!Published 6 months ago by Dana Snider
This is a fabulous program and it is also now available for free on the website Top Documentary Films and youtube!Published 6 months ago by angelsguard
So wonderful, saw this series on A&E and was Thrilled that you had the whole series available. Get the book as well as the DVD versions.Published 9 months ago by Rapunzel Smith
Of course it is. But that does not subtract from this most excellent series. No matter how much you know about history about history you can learn something new looking at it from... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Bernie