A PBS documentary detailing the development of the English language. Initially arising as a mix of Gaelic, Norse and Saxon, the language gradually developed its own distinctive ... See full summary »
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1  
1986  
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
John Barton ...
 Himself (1 episode, 1986)
Richard Bebb ...
 Himself - Chaucer Reader (1 episode, 1986)
...
 Richard III (archive footage) (1 episode, 1986)
...
 Herself / ... (1 episode, 1986)
...
 Duke of York (archive footage) (1 episode, 1986)
...
 Himself (1 episode, 1986)
...
 Himself / ... (1 episode, 1986)
...
 Bottom (archive footage) (1 episode, 1986)
...
 Himself (1 episode, 1986)
...
 Prologue in 'Henry V' (archive footage) (1 episode, 1986)
Keith Michell ...
 Marc Antony (archive footage) (1 episode, 1986)
Christopher Page ...
 Himself - Old English Reader (1 episode, 1986)
The Medieval Players ...
 Themselves (1 episode, 1986)
...
 Herself - Chaucer Reader (1 episode, 1986)
...
 Macbeth (archive footage) (1 episode, 1986)
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Storyline

A PBS documentary detailing the development of the English language. Initially arising as a mix of Gaelic, Norse and Saxon, the language gradually developed its own distinctive characteristics. As time passed and native speakers began to spread throughout the world, different regions began to form their own dialects. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net> (revision by Albert Sanchez Moreno)

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tv mini series | See All (1) »

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Documentary

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22 September 1986 (UK)  »

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(9 episodes)

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1.33 : 1
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Connections

Featured in Do You Speak American? (2005) See more »

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A PBS Masterpiece from the 80's
11 April 2006 | by (Pennsylvania) – See all my reviews

This PBS multi-part series whose view of the English language embraced practically every spot where it is spoken was a sheer masterpiece yielding endless fascinating insights (like how much of American culture and idiom derived from poker. Fair deal. Square deal. Double dealing. Fold. Underhanded. Stacked deck. Overplay a hand. Stand pat. Wild card. Ace up your sleeve. Call a bluff. Which happens to say a lot about how Americans view life as more influenced by luck, people skills, and the right mix of patience and boldness than the master plans and brilliant concentration of a chess master. How much American idiom comes from chess ?).

The first of eight parts dealt with a basic history of the English language up to Chaucer, starting with Celtic languages like Breton, Welsh and Cornish, and explaining why Danish and Saxon merged instead of half of England becoming part of Scandinavia. Subsequent episodes detail the national standardization of the language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible and how East Anglia English became Yankee English while Yorkshire English became the Southern drawl. How colonial Hudson Valley American English was taken north by Tory refugees to become Canadian English. The episode on Scottish romps from the still Celtic Orkneys to Edinburgh to the Scotch Irish to the Appalachians to the Texas twang. Then we get episodes on Black English, Irish English to the New Yawk accent, Cockney vs Oxbridge-BBC (Received Pronunciation) English to Australian, Pidgin, etc.

How I wish this was available on DVD.


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