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Planet Word. Stephen Fry

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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  196 ratings  ·  29 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
http://www.stevedow.com.au/default.as...

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
...more
Aurorae
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
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
...more
Rachael
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
Roger Paine
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.
Wendy Unsworth
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
...more
Fraser
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.

H
...more
Matt DSGNS
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.
Jennifer
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.
Rosemary
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.
Exoticbrett
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.
Brooke
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.
Gary
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.
Melanie
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.
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.
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.
Paige
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.
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.
Helen
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!
Paul Cheney
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
Amy
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.
Molly
Accessible introduction to the development and theories of language. I was looking for something with more linguistic theory, though.
Sandra
Jan 08, 2012 Sandra is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Accompanying the BBC series "Fry´s Planet Word" - interesting, well researched, good to read, even if not all at once, but in bits
Eleanor
A very interesting & entertaining read, but littered with grammatical & typographical errors, & the copious notes had no reference numbers.
Jannine
For anyone interested in languages and their history this is a fascinating account. I bought it and am slowly savouring it!
Jane
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.
Fern
Bit bumpier than the tv series cos no Stephen fry. Good for language geeks
Bonnie Rietveld
Interesting, makes you want to read more on the subject.
Margriet
Margriet marked it as to-read
Feb 28, 2015
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