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 though the heart of world finance, medicine and the Internet, and it is understood by around two thousand million people across the world. It seems set to go on. Yet it was very nearly wiped out in it’s early years.

In this book Melvyn Bragg shows us the remarkable story of the English language; from its beginnings to a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language. Along the way its colourful story takes in a host of characters and locations, from the early tribes, Alfred the Great’s stubborn resistance to the Danes, and through its early literary masterpieces such as Beowulf and the bawdy Geoffrey Chaucer; Henry VIII’s battles with the church over bootleg bibles; a ‘coarse’ playwright named William Shakespeare; the songs of the Creole slaves and the words of Davy Crockett; street slang and Dr Johnson’s dictionary; the role of English in India and its adoption in the United States of America which returned the language with full interest.

Embracing elements of Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, Hindi and Gullah, this 1500-year story covers a huge range of countries and peoples. 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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