One of the most interesting aspects of the English language lies in its variants, such as the "soda" vs. "pop" debate and the place of African-American English in modern culture. These and other dialectual curiosities are looked at in detail and placed in the context of today's world. Finally, Professor Drout examines the future, not only of the English language, but of all the world's languages.
©2006 Michael Drout; (P)2006 Recorded Books
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"Hits all the right marks"
I taught a similar course and we actually used the same program - phonetics, history, and then discussions about present day English. I found some of the discussion about code switching appealing (politically) but not always convincing. Drout prefaced the section by saying that many linguists don't agree and I appreciated that honesty. I found the explanations of the Great Vowel Shift and Norman Conquest particularly interesting. More than anything, the lectures were compelling, conversational in tone, and interesting -- this is not your typical boring history class! Great intro course for students and anyone interested in our fascinating language!
The professor has a quiet but enthusiastic way of presenting his material. He held my interest throughout the course. Fortunately I was alone when I practiced my sounds, but I feel I learned a lot about a language I take for granted. I recommend this book to anyone curious about English and about language in general. Not a definitive piece, but one that will please people who just want to know.
"A great set of lecture"
The first few lectures on phonelogy basics can be fairly boring, but this is one of the few Modern Scholar courses that become progressively more interesting as each lecture goes by. I learned a great deal and I am sure I'd revisit it time and again.
"Actually 3 hrs on Linguistics before any English"
This was another interesting subject, but I found this course to be lacking overall... Perhaps it is partly because I expected a full course on the origins and evolution of English - in fact what it is is half a course on introductory linguistics and the history of language in general, and then half of a course on English more specifically. Being familiar as I am with linguistics (my undergraduate minor), the first six lectures was much like getting my several semesters of ling summed up in a 3 hour survey course. And thus I was disappointed also that there was not as much time spent on English, and it felt cursory much of the time.
I think he might have found a way to work the course without the extended primer on linguistics, but he built on the basics and used them to give better explanations on the development and evolution of language (which are not just applicable to English).
What I did like was when he took the time to give examples of text from Gothic, Old English, and Chaucer's English. It helped demonstrate the developments and alterations being discussed, and gave a point of reference for comparison (since, most of us don't encounter untranslated Old English and Medieval texts on a regular basis, after all). It was a good series, and Drout is a good lecturer (whose course on the Anglo-Saxon world I enjoyed), it just wasn't what I had expected or hoped for.
But for someone new to the topics, and not requiring as much in depth discussion, this is a great introduction with a variety of interesting highlights. (I find professor McWhorter's Great Courses series and published works more in my line and depth of interest.)
"A Book Best Listened"
What a fascinating story of the development of language. To hear it read added immensely to my enjoyment. Why does English have so many silent 'e's? Why are there silent 'k's before 'en's?
It explained the language I call my own and gave me an appreciation--or greater appreciation--about the connectivity of humankind.
Attila the Hun. Who knew he was just a big papabear?
Loved it. Lots of great info. Hope you enjoy. Don't get worried about the technical sounds he talks about in the beginning. It helps you understand things in the end.
"Just when ya thought you knew English..."
Great book in the history of English! I was one of "those" people practicing the vocal exercises in my car on a road trip :)
Great way to understand just a little more on our language as it is, how it was, and perhaps as it will be.
"informative and fun"
Michael Drout's enthusiasm and love for the subject made this series a lot of fun. I plan to listen to the lectures again.
"decent for beginners"
as a trained psycholinguist, I found the author's frequent misstatements about psychology and neuroscience annoying. Hopefully he understood the history of language better than he understood these peripheral parts of his course. But it made me wonder...
This is the best course on the history of English language I have come across. Prof Drout is not only very knowledgeable but also passionate; you can tell he is having fun while he talks. Plenty of useful insights, and very clear plus a lot of added interesting stories. Highly recommended.
"Well up to this speaker's high standard - enjoy!"
Ignore the tedious intro by the old buffer. It's not a fair representation of the recording itself, which is very good indeed. I can't find a way to skip the intro, but the main lectures are well worth waiting for!
The lecturer's heavy American accent is hard to take at first, but the scholarship draws you in. Drout is so besotted with his subject that you will be taken to a new level of understanding, even if you're not a specialist and this is new for you. The material is uncompromisingly academic - he pulls no punches when it comes to some complex linguistic material - but the way in which it is presented is so enthusiastic and informal that it's like listening to a very intelligent friend who just happens to be obsessed with the English language and its development.
Tolkein fans will soon realise that they have a kindred spirit in Dr Drout. His lectures on fantasy and science fiction extends this and his Anglo Saxon audio lectures are also great and all on Audible.
In this cynical and shallow world, it's lovely to come across real academic depth matched with sheer enthusiasm for the subject. If this blend appeals to you too, prepare for some serious fun!
"Fascinating and fun!"
Professor Drought's easy delivery and sense of humour make the journey through the English language's history and technical bits enjoyable as well as enlightening. I loved this listen.
This book is exceptional in its content and narration. Both meet my requirements to have the subject matter easily understood, whilst not depriving it of academic requirement. This is a must for anyone wanting to study the History of the English language .
If I had the time I would happily listen to its content in one sitting.
Several of my university modules are explained fully in this book. It is most interesting and fully informative. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the English Language and where language originates from in human beings.
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