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Fry's English Delight, Series 3 (Englisch) Audio-CD – Audiobook, 7. Oktober 2010

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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Stephen Fry is a celebrated British actor, novelist, journalist, presenter, intellectual and wit. He has produced four novels and two volumes of autobiography, and has written for radio shows and TV. His TV credits include "Jeeves and Wooster" and "Blackadder, " and he hosted the BBC TV series "QI." His readings of the Harry Potter books have won him huge acclaim and several awards.


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5.0 von 5 Sternen More Crumbs from the Table of the Master... 28. November 2010
Von Magic Lemur - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Third albums can be very difficult. Just look at any band (e.g. Oasis, Radiohead) & their third major release tends to be a flop or not live up to expectations.

In this case, I think there is an exception.

For one, some time has been left between the first two and this one, which seems to have been just enough to re-invigorate interest & provide the BBC time to think up new ideas.
For two, Stephen Fry has an eerie gift for being interesting & moving with the winds of change, rather than being capsized by them.

So, it is with this & as soon as you start the first CD, you will find a topic that is compelling, insightful & adds to our wealth of knowledge as a species.


Part 1: The Trial of QWERTY.

Take a look at your keyboard. It is highly likely it is a QWERTY model & that that is what you have grown used to over years & years.
But did you know it could be different? That there are many other varieties of Keyboard that are better & many other types of technology light-years ahead of it?

This is the fascinating thing about this segment. Set up as a trial of the QWERTY format, it introduces the listener to all sorts of devices that have "better ergonomics & greatly reduced key travel".

Most interestingly there is the DVORAK keyboard, which is shown to have a totally different typing rhythm to QWERTY, but there are also greater evolutions, such as `Optimus Maximus' & `Stenographs' (which can achieve 180 words a minute - the speed of speech).

And these snippets are just the tip of the iceberg of a fascinating section.

Part 2: He Said, She Said.

`Gender' brings up visions of tawdry, dry French lessons, where lots of rules are rote-learned, then forgotten post GCSE's.
Actually, there is a lot of interesting material about gender, which is only enhanced by Fry's own tendencies...

For instance, there is the nature of all women & all men conversations.
Male conversations tend to take turns (as with Shakespearean monologues).
Female conversations on the other hand are more like `Jamming sessions' where `laughter is almost treated like an instrument.'

Coupled with this, there is also a short interview with the surgeon `who does the most sex changes in the UK', where it is explained how the vocal cords are thickened & shortened & men (turning into women) are taught how to use more adjectives & make greater use of tone.

Again, not to spoil the content, but there are many other interesting facets regarding gender (& transgender) in this section.

Part 3: Accentuate the Negative.

One of the stranger sections, this covers positives, negatives & dialectical debates. Starting off with the famous Monty Python `Argument' sketch, there is an interview with a philosopher (about the meaning of double negatives & all the permutations thereof).

As this section progresses through the idea of dialectical arguments to establish truth, it then moves onto comedy & how the formula of `Straight man/ Funny man' has used contradiction to great effect in creating humour.

This section finishes with a Stephen Fry list of 35 Oxymoron's (phrases with inherent contradictions in them) - e.g. `safe bet', `religious toleration', `countless numbers' & `fresh cheese'.
(btw, I only counted 21 after 2 listens, but I'm sure future listeners can do better...?)

Part 4: Future Conditional.

A good section to end the CD's with, this part looks at how English might evolve in future, with 400 million native speakers & 4 billion second language speakers & variants (such as American-English & Singaporean-English) already popping up.

All sorts of interesting analyses pop up in this part, including the way the rhythm of English appears to be evolving from traditional `tum-te-tum-te-tum' to the more Jamaican/ Hip hop style `Rat-tat-tat' structure.

The CD moves through how different cultures use English, to how robots are being taught to read and, one day, understand the subtle nuances of language. As with many discussions of robotics, this raises the question of whether a robot that read & understood would actually be sentient.

Beyond this, there is discussion of how Google is increasingly using `Babel-Fish' technology to break down language barriers & how this might lead to another explosion in the size of the language (already there has been an expansion from 150,000 words in Shakespeare's time, to 1.5 Million now).

Couple this section with the QWERTY one & it is easy to see how limited our traditional perspective of English has become.


Overall I'd rate this CD as being better than Series 2 & up there with the Series 1. As with previous reviews of this series, I recommend Fry and Laurie Read Daudet and Jerome & his reading of Oscar Wilde's Short Stories.

I'd also like to recommend, though, The Ode Less Travelled which I'm about halfway through & is turning into a compelling education into how to be a poet (Fry's favourite pastime). 9 CD's is a little long but as it is of similar quality to this, it should prove worthwhile...
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