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Planet Word. Stephen Fry

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  243 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
From feral children to fairy-tale princesses, secrets codes, invented languages - even a language that was eaten! - Planet Word uncovers everything you didn't know you needed to know about how language evolves. Learn the tricks to political propaganda, why we can talk but animals can't, discover 3,000-year-old clay tablets that discussed beer and impotence and test yoursel ...more
Hardcover, 445 pages
Published 2011 by Penguin Group
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Steve Dow
Mar 16, 2012 Steve Dow rated it really liked it

SIX thousand languages are spoken today but by 2100 there will be only 900 in use.

Considering that for most English speakers the work of Shakespeare, penned in Elizabethan times, is difficult – if rewarding – and the millennia-old manuscript of Beowulf a muddle, where might today’s languages be thousands of years hence?

Some say they won’t exist, and Planet Word, a story of language with an Anglo-centric bias authored by British film and television produce
Feb 12, 2012 Aurorae rated it really liked it
This book is great for those interested in linguistics/philology. It covers a broad range of language, from Cockney rhyming slang to the story-telling of the Odyssey and Illiad. There are many different examples in each section, detailed explanations as a result of what must have been a lot of research, and pictures and diagrams approximately 1 every 2 pages. There are also quotes and discussions from many leading people in the subjects - Steven Pinker, various authors and poets, actors commenti ...more
Caleb Martin
Oct 02, 2012 Caleb Martin rated it liked it
This book is a worthwhile introduction/overview of language within our culture.

The book follows the BBC series of the same title closely which, unfortunately, is one of the shortcomings of of the book. The flow of information of an hour long episode of television does not translate well to the book format found here.

I picked up the book hoping to find significantly deeper research into the topics covered in the tv series, however was mainly left wanting more. To the authors credit, he has incl
Sally Asnicar
I had high expectations for Planet Word, given its authorship and the foreword by Stephen Fry. I enjoyed the book; it was entertaining, informative and funny - although at times rather rambling. However, the main issue for me was the number of errors in the book. I'm not sure how much time was allocated to proofreading before it went to print, but there are repeated words (that that - twice), typos (patois spelled patios), missing full stops and a number of other glaringly obvious errors. One or ...more
Mar 25, 2012 Rachael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, language
This book is the accompaniment to the television program regarding the English language (and the use of language in general) presented by Stephen Fry. The book is more in depth than the series whilst covering the same topics. There are laugh out loud funny moments but for the most part the book is informative, there is a significant cross over with Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue except this book does go beyond English looking into the origins and development of languages like Yiddish and the Irish ...more
Wendy Unsworth
Feb 10, 2012 Wendy Unsworth rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the TV series and loved this book. It's split up into lots of interesting bite-sized chunks so there is never a feel of getting bogged down. Covers the origins of languages around the world and how they have evolved; lots of snippets about slang and it's uses, where we get some of our well known phrases, great orators, writers, libraries - there is much to learn!
Strangely, because I had seen the TV series before I read the book, I imagined Stephen Fry narrating the text (and felt I hea
Mar 27, 2013 Fraser rated it it was amazing
I think I may have part watched a TV series based on this. It didn't stick with me, nor I to it, but the book was just fantastic. If you are going to learn about language, read about it!

Clearly Stephen Fry's involvement has helped this book's profile, but it doesn't overshadow or get in the way of the fact that it is an absolute treasure and pleasure to read. Fascinating, and full of the most interesting stories and facts told with a sense of humour by an author clearly immersed in his subject.

Jun 06, 2012 Matt DSGNS rated it it was ok
I was overjoyed when I was able to purchase this book and get around to reading it, only to be bitterly disappointed at the final hurdle when I got into it and then really started to struggle on my way through it.

The sections and chapters are not flowing and once you get into a topic, there is a sudden switch to another unrelated topic. You really need a mass of determination to get through this book.

Could have been done better by the authors.
Jul 06, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Great start to my summer! Followed the TV show very closely with a chapter for each episode, but included a lot of extra information that was not in the show, along with beautiful colour pictures! Amazing quality hardback book with beautiful pictures and full of interesting information. A must-read for anyone who is studying the English language, or just has a passion for it.
May 13, 2012 Rosemary rated it liked it
So, technically I didn't exactly finish this book, but I was very close. Unfortunately it was due back at the library. It wasn't a bad book. Davidson's writing style kept the at times quite academic subject matter interesting. However, be aware that if yo have seen the show you will be revisiting a lot of information.
Roger Paine
Jan 26, 2014 Roger Paine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fairly typical of the TV series derived genre, Planet Word is like a good sponge cake: light and easy with a bit of cream on top; nothing that's going to require much chewing or a tooth pick. A good starter for anyone who thinks they might be interested in language rather than diving straight into the Pinker/Chomsky deep end.
Apr 07, 2012 Melanie rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Very entertaining read, the writing had a nice flow to it and felt fresh.
I did find some inaccuracies and for a book called "Planet Word" it was still a bit too Anglocentric in my opinion, so that's what is keeping me from giving it a full 4 stars.
Jul 28, 2013 Brooke(worm) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was very interesting. I really loved it. I have always been fascinated by the subject of language and when I saw the tv series, I knew I had to get the book. Anyone who is interested in this subject will find this book fascinating and very relatable.
Mar 27, 2012 Exoticbrett rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A light, entertaining introduction to the history and usage of language. It skims the surface of an incredibly vast array of topics, never delving too deeply. Full of fascinating facts, tidbits and anecdotes, it's a breezy take on an endlessly broad and changing subject.
C.J. Hill
An interesting read for those who are of an enquiring mind about how language evolved and aimed at the general reader, not only language nerds! Rather disappointed in the level of editing - ironic given the book's focus.
Jun 18, 2013 Gary rated it really liked it
Shelves: mother-tongue
Well-written and informative. All things connected to language find their way into this book; and yet all discussed at the popular level, making it a really pleasurable read.

I think it is a kind of book-form of Stephen Fry's TV series on word and words.

Liked it.
Samantha Wellard

As a Language student, I found this a fascinating and light hearted look at how language is used and how has evolved. Whether furthering knowledge or just to learn more, a truly brilliant read.
Accessible introduction to the development and theories of language. I was looking for something with more linguistic theory, though.
Jan 08, 2012 Sandra is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Accompanying the BBC series "Frys Planet Word" - interesting, well researched, good to read, even if not all at once, but in bits ...more
Jun 10, 2012 Jannine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone interested in languages and their history this is a fascinating account. I bought it and am slowly savouring it!
Aug 27, 2012 Eleanor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A very interesting & entertaining read, but littered with grammatical & typographical errors, & the copious notes had no reference numbers.
May 14, 2012 Jane rated it liked it
The book of the series, and it reads like it. Found it hard to read linearly and ended up dipping in and out of it.
Brian Boyle
A somewhat patchy and occasionally informative read. Suffers from being the book of a TV show and displays all the attention span of that particular medium.
Oct 11, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2012
The book for the TV series presented by the wordmaster Stephen Fry. Very good, should be read by any one with an interest in words & language
Aug 07, 2012 Paige rated it really liked it
Very readable--as you'd expect from a book to go along with a Beeb programme, tis true. Packed full of information and concepts, though, as you'd expect from something Fry-touched.
Dec 28, 2011 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full of fascinating bits of infomation on etymology and changes in language use. Written with humour and real love for words and what they can do. I loved it!
Candice Bowden
Jan 30, 2015 Candice Bowden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting and enjoyable book which touches on pretty much every aspect of language.
Nov 08, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lots of old information I had forgotten about but also lots I knew nothing about. It's written very well and makes it hard to put down.
Vicky Armstrong
Vicky Armstrong rated it really liked it
Mar 13, 2016
Jo rated it really liked it
Feb 20, 2013
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