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The Adventure Of English (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Melvyn Bragg
4.8 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (4 Kundenrezensionen)

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From Publishers Weekly

This compelling and charmingly personal companion to an eight-part television documentary (scheduled for the fall) makes for an idiosyncratic rival to PBS's bestselling blockbuster The Story of English, by Robert McCrum et al. Titling a history of the evolution and expansion of a language an "adventure" presupposes a hero, with such obvious choices as Alfred the Great, for defeating the Danes; Chaucer, for his Canterbury Tales; Shakespeare, for his poetic inventiveness; or Samuel Johnson, for his groundbreaking dictionary. Bragg, a British TV and radio personality and novelist (The Soldier's Return), gives all their contributions their due, but English itself, with its "deep obstinacy" and "astonishing flexibility," emerges as his favorite character. Bragg's enthusiasm for his subject-hero, whether the Old English of Beowulf or the new "Text English" of the Internet, makes up for his shortcomings as a linguist: his sources, unfootnoted, are at times at variance with the OED or Webster's Third. For instance, Bragg furnishes only one putative origin for the disputed "real McCoy." Moreover "candy" does not seem to have Anglo-Indian origins (it's from the Arabic "qandi"), and the first recorded use of "vast" is not from Shakespeare (the OED cites Archbishop Edwin Sandys). Nevertheless, this "biography" succeeds in its broad, sweeping narrative, carrying the reader from the origins of Anglo-Saxon through the Viking and Norman invasions to the consolidation of "British" English and outward to America, Australia, India, the West Indies and beyond. After some 1,500 years, with one billion speakers now worldwide, according to Bragg, the English language has displayed an amazing ability to repair and reinvent itself, as Bragg ably shows. 32 pages of color illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Why do Americans say fall when the British say autumn? How was English altered by the Black Death? What is Singlish and how has it evolved? Novelist Bragg explores these and other questions in his look at the English language's long march from obscure Sanskrit origins to a global lingua franca. Along the way, he examines the roles played by the Viking invasions, the Norman Conquest, the Tyndale Bible, the writings of Chaucer and Shakespeare, and the Industrial Revolution. He also traces English's journey across the globe in the wake of British imperialism, following it to America, India, Australia, and elsewhere. Several chapters are devoted to American English and how it has been transformed by influences as diverse as the journals of Lewis and Clark and the African dialects that were transported with the slaves. Looking ahead, the book considers how standard language will be shaped by "other Englishes" employed by those for whom English is a second tongue. It is Bragg's contention that the prevalence of English can be explained in part by such inherent virtues as "astonishing precision and flexibility," and whether one agrees with him or not, he is the ideal tour guide here, both entertaining and informative. Mary Ellen Quinn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 526 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 368 Seiten
  • Verlag: Sceptre; Auflage: New Ed (21. Dezember 2011)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.8 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (4 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #243.150 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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15 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Billions of people, including myself, speak English every day but we never really think about where the language comes from. What influenced it? What changes did it go through? What challenges did English face throughout the ages? Who were its friends and its enemies? Melvyn Bragg covers all these areas and a whole lot more.
Bragg tells us how English is mainly made up of French, Latin, Dutch (Frisian) and even some Arabic. We begin with the years leading up to 1066AD, with the Vikings, the Celts and other foreign invaders who attempted to impose their language upon the lands which are now the British Isles. We begin to see the first signs of English breaking through, despite the iron grip which Latin & French seems to have in everyday life. Latin is dominant in the Church and with educated intellectuals, while French controls the Monarchy and everyday government affairs. Then we start to see what would become "Old English" and throughout the centuries, a variety of influences would shape English into what it is today, thanks to contributions from stalwarts such as Shakespeare & Chaucer.
English then goes over the water into the "New World", the Pilgrims landing in America with their strict religious views and their determination to make English the dominant language in America, despite their being other nationalities in America - again the French, the Dutch, the Portugese even. But eventually English wins the day and takes its rightful place in the world.
After reading this book, you will develop a new appreciation for the English language and the battles it had to go through to get to where it is today. Complete with illustrations, this book is probably the best book available on the history of the English language. Easy to read, a joy to read, and a fountain of information and knowledge. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A true adventure story 23. August 2005
This is one of the most fascinating non-fiction books I have read. The history of the English language, as written by Mr. Bragg, is easily as gripping and absorbing as a real adventure story. And well written, too! Fun to read, indeed! Tons of well-researched information presented in an easily accessible and entertaining way.
If you want to know where the English language came from and what happened to it along the way in the past 1500 years since the first Germanic tribes planted its roots, and how it came to be what it is today, then this is the book for you. And even if you already know a lot about it, there's still a lot to discover in this book, and it offers many new angles from which to look at this thing called English.
An absolute must for everybody interested in the English language!
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Melvyn at his best 5. Dezember 2012
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
The book is a bit of a challenge and assumes a sound knowledge of English history, but an excellent read.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Ich habe mir mehr davon erhofft - dreieinhalb Sterne... 18. Dezember 2011
Von Beatrice Berger TOP 1000 REZENSENT
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Die Idee des Buches ist genial. Die Umsetzung, es tut mir leid, ist es nur bedingt. Das führt am Ende dazu, daß ich mich schon kurz nach der Hälfte nur noch danach gesehnt habe, die Qual werde ein Ende nehmen - unbeeindruckt von dem Umstand, daß auch in der letzten Hälfte noch interessante und beeindruckende Erkenntnisse enthalten waren. Ein streng subjektiver Eindruck, gewiß.

Daher: Was stört mich an dem Buch?

- Das Äußere. Relativ kleine Buchstaben. Relativ wenig Absätze. Relativ wenig Auflockerung im Schriftbild. Das ermüdet. Und bei einem Thema wie diesem ermüdet es richtig. Zwar sind Gedichtzitate eingerückt abgedruckt, das ist aber schon alles. Wenn dies auch für die Prosatexte gelten würde, würde das ebensoviel helfen wie wenn Wörterlisten (es sind keine langen Listen) nicht im Fließtext abgedruckt würden, sondern in Spalten mit der Übersetzung ins Neuenglische (wo nötig, es ist, aber vgl. unten, m.E. öfter nötig als es geschehen ist) in der Spalte daneben.

- Dann, ich bin kein Native Speaker, und ich weiß nicht, wie es denen geht, die es sind: aber gerade beim Alt- und Mittelenglischen setzt der Autor ein Verständnis voraus, das ich nicht habe (und auch nicht wüßte, aus welcher Sekundärliteratur ich es nehmen soll)

- Nachdem er Autor sich einigermaßen Zeit gelassen hat, bis er bei Shakespeare angelangt ist, beginnt er dann auf einmal mit einer Geschwindigkeit durch sein Thema zu hetzen, als sei er auf der Flucht.
Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.3 von 5 Sternen  69 Rezensionen
49 von 53 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Appealing to History Buffs 3. Dezember 2004
Von T. Hooper - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This easy to read volume discusses the history and development of the English language. It covers the period from the invasion of the Angles and Saxons up to modern times. There were a few close calls in the history of English. We could be speaking Danish or French, if history had turned out differently. What would the world be like then?

Each chapter covers a different era of English history and towards the end of the book, American and International English history. It breaks down how certain important events influenced the development of the English language. It also provides some samples of word origins, and how grammar has gradually changed over the centuries. I think that anyone who is interested in English or history, and especially anyone who is interested in both, should pick this up.
32 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent Introduction to the English Language 4. Februar 2006
Von Gordon C. Duus - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
In this book Melvyn Bragg presents, in an easy to read style, the story of the evolution of the English language. Starting with the origins of Old English in the fifth century, he describes the impact on the language of the Viking invasion of England in the ninth century, the enormous effect of the victory of the french-speaking Normans over the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings, the breakthrough of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, how the publication of various bibles spread English to the households of Britain, and Shakespeare's preeminent impact on the development of the language. The focus then shifts to the influence on English of colonial America, the Wild West, African Americans, the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean and Australia. His central thesis is that English is uniquely adaptive, absorbing other languages with which it comes into contact, thereby growing and becoming richer and more expressive.

This book is designed to accompany a PBS series to debut in 2006. It is aimed at the typical PBS viewer. The critical reviews on this site, which scold the author for not being more rigorous or scholarly, often seem to miss this point. This is an excellent introduction to the origins of the English language.
33 von 37 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Not a PhD Level Thesis, But What Did You Expect? 9. November 2009
Von Guy the Gorilla - Veröffentlicht auf
Melvyn Bragg is the well-known writer, editor, and producer of the long running British South Bank Show, and is also a prolific writer and novelist. He is not a linguist, but with his background as a journalist for the BBC, he does appear to know how to collect and compile reasonably accurate information and make it presentable, readable, and accessible to anyone with a high school level education.

I suppose if someone wants an authoritative discourse on the development of English, there is always the Oxford History of English. However, a quick check on the Amazon site for that particular book shows exactly zero reader reviews, suggesting that it isn't exactly a best seller. I'm sure linguists consult books written at that level regularly, but for someone who wants a quick overview written in readable prose, Bragg's book is not bad.

I am not a historian by trade, though I am reasonably well-read on the subject. I did not detect any glaring historical errors in Bragg's book, though to read some of the one-star reviews you'd get the impression he completely fumbled the research. I don't believe that is the case - if there are mistakes here in the research - then they are minor and nothing that I could detect.

My chief complaint about the book is regarding Bragg's style. This is a book about the English language, so perhaps all the verbal flourishes were intended to highlight the utility of English to convey thoughts not only precisely but artistically. Nonetheless, I found the prose a bit much - a bit too flowery and florid and overdone. Writers are not supposed to call attention to themselves by overdoing the so-called fifty-dollar words - I think Bragg should have toned the descriptives down a tad. He also decided to personify the language - talking about the English language throughout the book as though it was some kind of living entity capable of making decisions and performing actions. When combined with the aforementioned flowery language, this became a distraction and really did not contribute to the book whatsoever.

That said, I learned a good deal of new information, so I think, all in all, this was a worthwhile read. I am not sure I will run out and read everything else Bragg has ever written, but he is to be congratulated here for producing a book on the history of the English language that should be accessible to the average high school or college graduate - which is in keeping with the spirit of his television program as well.
12 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A nice story of a remarkable character, told by a very talented storyteller 22. Dezember 2007
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I learnt of this book through the results of a search on English language's history books, and I bought it along with Professor's David Crystal's The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. This may sound naïve, but the moment I unwrapped the parcel I kinda felt that I'd got something worth the money I had spent, which was not a small amount, as I live in South America. I'd never reviewed any purchase I did before, Amazon's or any other online store's, but I just finished Mr. Bragg's book, and I felt I just couldn't let through the opportunity to say how pleasant were the reading moments this book provided me these last few weeks, and it would be a shame if I didn't do at least a meagre effort to get more people have their share of this priceless treasure.
I am Brazilian, and as you probably know the language spoken in my country is Portuguese. I've got this little book on Portuguese language history here, and it is sad that, besides being a very short one and dealing mostly with the linguistic aspects of the language (which doesn't devaluate the book at all, on account of being mostly technical talking, but sure keeps it from being more interesting and accessible to a wider public) and not having even been written by a Portuguese speaker, was the only one I could find. On the other hand, search Amazon for English language history and you'll get tons of results, which shows how fond of their mother tongue the English native speakers are.
And if that was my first (and good) impression on the amount of the results of my search, I became simply astonished as the pages went by. Mr. Braggs speaks of English language not in a romanticised way, not as a close friend, not in a passionately (and possibly suspicious and annoying, as it uses to be when it comes to passionate descriptions) way, but with deep respect, permeated with kindness, and it goes without saying from the first to the last page that Mr. Melvyn is really enjoying telling people all he got to learn about his beloved subject, and feels glad that he is cooperating somehow to create a rather personal bonding between the reader and the language in which he tells the latter's own story. You can almost see English language as a typical adventure story hero: someone who's got feelings, sometimes lack of self-assurance, others ambition, greed, joy, arrogance, someone who goes after his goals. English language shows up like a palpable subject, like the old (hundreds and hundreds of years old) lady who sits beside us on the bus, on her way not to the confort of her house, but in search for some good fun on the neighbourhood, or maybe beyond.
I am not an English native speaker, and you who are reading this may find many grammar or vocabulary mistakes in this review, of which I am not well aware myself, but that doesn't worry me much, as Mr. Bragg conveys rather conforting news to us who use English as a second language: we've got a very important role in the next chapters of this never-ending English adventure. I confess I am very proud of it, and it'd be an honour if my part on this story was to be told by such a good storyteller as Mr. Bragg.
12 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Brilliant and Compelling story 26. September 2005
Von Eric Williams - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
If you love the beauty, subtlety and adaptability of English, this book will give you very many insights into how English has reached its current position, as probably the world's pre-eminent language. At no stage a 'dry' text book, Bragg's book moves at the speed of light and with all the twists and turns of a Michael Connelly crime novel. This is the history of a people as well as its language. Of how it emerged from three hundred years of French rule during which French and Latin were the only 'recognised' written lnaguages. And how from these languages it absorbed adapted, enriched and broadened English so it could communicate on an ever wider range of issues. Touches on the Roman Catholic Church in England and, shamefully, how it insisted on all bibles being in Latin and therefore having to be mediated by the 'chosen' ones the bishops and priests who where then able to misuse their power of being, effectively, the voice of God. I could not put down this book and would select it as a present for most of my friends. Buy it and experience the thrill of discovery which so many readers will find. I also saw the book presented in a 25 episode program on Australian TV, enjoyed it then, and was further delighted by the book
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