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Adventure of English — 500 A.D. To 2000 A.D.
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Language and Languages
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1.

The Battle for the Language of the Bible [electronic resource]

In late-medieval England, English quietly ousted French in law and government- but the move to make it God's language meant bloodshed. This program looks at the battle for a Bible in English, a struggle with huge impact on the language itself. Dramatic readings from successive English Bibles show the language's evolution. Location footage and original manuscripts illustrate key figures and events, such as John Wycliffe, the Lollards, and the first English Bible; William Langland's Piers Plowman; Henry V's official correspondence; the role of the Chancery or English civil service; William Caxton's printing press; William Tyndale's translation; and the King James Bible.
Online
2006; 2003
2.

Birth of a Language [electronic resource]

Melvyn Bragg begins the story of English in Holland, finding ancestral echoes in the Frisian dialect. What follows is a chapter on survival as the English language weathers Viking and Norman invasions, vying with and eventually absorbing rival tongues. Lively settings such as village pubs and markets bring home the lasting influence of Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, and Old French. The connection between Christianity, Latin, and an alphabet is explored, as well as the role of the language's first champion, King Alfred the Great. Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney reads from and discusses the first epic in English, Beowulf.
Online
2006; 2003
3.

English Goes Underground [electronic resource]

With the Norman invasion, English became a third language in its own country, behind French and Latin. In this program, Melvyn Bragg examines the impact of Old French on the development of English. Manuscripts, tapestries, and dozens of curious etymologies help illustrate a tremendous influx of vocabulary pertaining to romance, chivalry, and, of course, food. The influence of Eleanor of Aquitaine's patronage is heard in works of poets and troubadours as the cult of courtly love flourished in England.
Online
2006; 2003
4.

English in America [electronic resource]

When Massasoit hailed the Plymouth settlers in their own language, they might have taken it for a sign that English would dominate the New World. Packed with surprising etymologies and intriguing stories, this program traces the dynamic relationship between English and America, exploring the linguistic influence of westward expansion, cowboy culture, slave culture, and encounters with the French and Spanish languages. Key works examined include The New England Primer and Webster's The American Spelling Book.
Online
2006; 2003
5.

The Language of Empire [electronic resource]

Amok, "boomerang," "bungalow," "bangle," "dumdum," "plonk," "assassin"-these are some of the many words that have entered English by way of colonial expansion. This program explores how the British Empire in its heyday exported its language around the globe and how different forms of speech and vocabulary, as well as different attitudes to English, developed out of that colonial expansion. Rich variations of dialect, accent, and slang are heard in many samples from India, the Caribbean, and Australia.
Online
2006; 2003
6.

Many Tongues Called English, One World Language [electronic resource]

This program explores how America's rise as an economic power made it the driving force behind the spread of English in the 20th century. A world tour illustrates how English has mixed with other languages-from "Franglais" in France to "Singlish" in Singapore-and how the dollar's power, coupled with the lure of consumerism, has made English the international trade language. Bringing it full circle, host Melvyn Bragg returns to the British Isles to survey English as it is spoken there now, measuring the influence of American slang and vocabulary from other languages.
Online
2006; 2003
7.

Speaking Proper [electronic resource]

This program follows English through the 18th and 19th centuries, from attempts at reforming and standardizing the tongue in the Age of Reason to the soaring verse of Romanticism and the verbal prudishness of the Victorian era. Linguistic milestones are highlighted by original editions of critical texts, including Newton's Opticks, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, Thomas Sheridan's British Education, and George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Other key figures discussed include Jonathan Swift, Robert Burns, Jane Austen, and William Wordsworth.
Online
2006; 2003
8.

This Earth, This Realm, This England [electronic resource]

Has any single person shaped English more than William Shakespeare? This program uses unparalleled access to some of the greatest English texts, including the first English dictionary and a rare first folio of Shakespeare's plays, to illustrate the great Bard's influence. John Barton, honorary associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, discusses the sound and accessibility of Shakespeare's words. His impact is also examined in the larger context of Elizabethan England and the Renaissance.
Online
2006; 2003