The Adventure of English is a captivating documentary series, presented by the celebrated author Melvyn Bragg and accompanied by an equally engaging book. The series and the book chronicle the remarkable journey of English as it evolved from a minor Germanic tongue to its current status as one of the world’s most widely spoken languages.
Beginning in 500 AD, when English was still largely unknown outside of Anglo-Saxon circles, Bragg takes us on a captivating exploration of how our language has changed and adapted over time. Through his explanations and analysis, we are given an insight into how English has been affected by social class, religion, world wars and globalisation.
We learn how the Frisian language was particularly influential in the early development of English; how Latin and French were used for several hundred years among nobility while only English remained in use with peasant classes; how theologian John Wycliffe fought for English to become the language of scripture; how Queen Elizabeth I’s reign saw a massive expansion of words from France; how Squanto taught some settlers English upon their arrival to North America; how Jonathan Swift attempted to stabilize the language against continual change; and finally, how British trade and colonisation spread English across many countries such as India, Australia, and Jamaica – leading to its eventual global status today.
This documentary is more than just a fascinating exploration into our linguistic history – it is an inspiring testament to both resilience and creativity that goes beyond simply language itself. It should be watched by everyone who is interested in exploring both language evolution as well as human progress throughout history.