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The Adventure of English: The Biography of a…
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The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language (original 2003; edition 2011)

by Melvyn Bragg

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984238,727 (3.67)47
Member:mabith
Title:The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language
Authors:Melvyn Bragg
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Collections:Read but unowned
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Tags:Non-fiction, Language

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The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg (2003)

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» See also 47 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Started this several years ago and adored it but somehow never finished it. ( )
  sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
This is aimed at the general reader and attempts to cover the development of the English language from its origins in Frisian through to today's global common language and foundation for the technical language we are all expected to speak - the web world. Bragg focuses on the development of vocabulary and the introduction of words into English from other languages. The main point he makes is that English is very good at stealing words rather than inventing new ones and at re-purposing old words to new meanings. This, he argues, is what makes English so flexible and adaptable, and what makes English a strong contender for a global common language. This is an entertaining read and the bibliography is strong enough for anyone wanting to dive deeper into the subject. ( )
  pierthinker | Aug 19, 2013 |

I enjoyed this quite a lot. History comes alive when you can actually hear the people speaking, and that’s what this book does. It tells us where all the words come from, the words that run through the minds of all of us English speakers. It shows the relationship between the language and the other languages around it, where walls were built and where walls were penetrated. Treating the language as a living entity works beautifully; we can really feel its muscle.
( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 25, 2013 |

I enjoyed this quite a lot. History comes alive when you can actually hear the people speaking, and that’s what this book does. It tells us where all the words come from, the words that run through the minds of all of us English speakers. It shows the relationship between the language and the other languages around it, where walls were built and where walls were penetrated. Treating the language as a living entity works beautifully; we can really feel its muscle.
( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 24, 2013 |
A delightful, erudite and informative read, even though I happened to spend a whole term studying the history of the English language before. It discusses English of the British Isles with a special place for Welsh and Scottish varieties, of America, Wild West, India, West Indies and Australia. A wonderful book to be read many times, with the following conclusion:
‘An adventure should have an ending but there is no conclusion to the astounding and moving journey of the English language, from its small spring to rivers of thought and poetry and science, into oceans of religions and politics, industry and finance and technology, those oceans swept by storms that poured English on to the willing and unwilling alike. It is a language that other languages take on, bend, adapt and grow from, just as English itself from its slow fierce forging in these islands has taken on and been tested by and absorbed many languages. Still it grows.’ ( )
2 vote Niecierpek | Mar 30, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Bragg sees the English Language as a living organism, with hopes, fears, courage and determination all of its own. Its history is an epic tale of breaking free from the confines of mainland Europe, leaping into the wide expanse of the British Isles, heroic resistance to the onslaught of the Vikings, then cruel defeat by the Normans, dark years of oppression as it gazes upon looming extinction. Then, just when all seems lost, comes triumph over its enemies, a glorious blooming, a bursting forth to take on the world and win the prize of Top Language, as it has always felt its destiny to be.
 
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Book description
English is the collective work of millions of people throughout the ages. It is democratic, ever-changing and ingenious in its assimilation of other cultures. English runs through the heart of world finance, medicine and the Internet, and it is understood by around two thousand million people across the world. Yet it was very nearly wiped out in its early years.

In this book Melvyn Bragg shows us 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 day-to-day lives shaped and continue to change the extraordinary language that is English.
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English is understood by around two thousand million people across the world. Yet it was very nearly wiped out in its early years. Melvyn Bragg explores the story of the English language - from its beginnings as a minor Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language.… (more)

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