Posted: 04/30/2009


The Adventure of English

by Rick Villalobos

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The Adventure of English is a great buy for every writer and speaker of the English language. It brings together the history of a dialect unknown to many of us in 408 minutes. Impossible, you say? Well, the people from Acorn Media Group think otherwise and have done so in an intriguing and entertaining documentary. Hosted by author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg (The South Bank Show), this DVD features eight episodes, each one, exploring further the elements that have shaped the English language into a world wide idiom.

With a slew of experts, poets and scholars, this documentary travels 1,500 years back, to a time when English was a Germanic dialect, unchanged by the third estate. Religious affliction and political upheaval will, in the long run, direct its influence on humankind and facet the English language that we know today. Wars will ensue, civilizations will end, and technology will find its place in the centuries to come, altering human behavior and the channels of communication.

The Adventure of English covers in great detail the savagery of the Viking invaders, the French code of honor and nobility, the interpretation of Scripture and the Protestant Reformation, William Shakespeare and the renaissance, the puritans of the 17th century, the Enlightenment, British rule of India, the Caribbean and Australia, and American pop culture. This DVD has it all.

Still undecided – here are a few questions to think about: How does culture shape language? What role did William Shakespeare play in the evolution of the English lexicon? Has American slang negatively shaped the language we speak today? Will language continue to evolve and in what way? If you don’t know the answers - then - it is probably a good thing to get this DVD. Every student will benefit from this great journalistic achievement. It is a chronicle that is well researched, easily explained, and significant to everyone who speaks the language.

BONUS FEATURES: 20-page viewer’s guide includes key points, discussion questions, avenues for further learning, “The Evolution of the English Alphabet” essay; “Architects of the Language” biographies; Exclusive web extras.

The Adventure of English premiered on ITV in the U.K. in November 2003 and also aired on the History Channel networks.

Debuts on Home Video June 2, 2009

Rick Villalobos is a writer and film critic in Chicago.

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