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This fast paced commentary of how English developed over many centuries and became the international language we know and use today also gives the listener insight into the weirdly inconsistent spelling rules in our language, and how we have come to have such a broad vocabulary with its many shades of expression.
Fascinating subject, full of facts - so why didn't I enjoy it? I nearly didn't make it past the first chapter. Perhaps it's better read than listened to? The endless lists, for example. And too many examples per fact (yes we've got the point, thank you). Or maybe this book is of more interest to a non-native speaker and lover of English Language. I really don't know, but this is the most disappointing talking book for me so far.
If you enjoy the etymology of words then you will enjoy this book which gives the whens and why words came or were absorbed into 'English'. A product of its history, this book is a fasinating insight on the impact of invaders and settlers like the Romans, Vikings and especially the Normans and of England's neighbours like the Dutch, French and Germans.
Perhaps the only criticism is that Melvyn Bragg reads slightly too fast. Does he always talk as though he is pressed for time on a radio programme? Still it is an interesting tale well-told and worth the effort of listening closely.