It was after hearing about this new documentary series on The Jonathan Ross Show that I was very intrigued, by the concept, by my like for the actor of presenter I enjoyed in Blackadder, and wanting to learn more about ourselves. Stephen Fry presents this series that looks at the origins of words, humans are the only animal on the planet that have learnt to speak, read and write, and basically this programme looks at how we developed these qualities. Episode one focuses on the origins of language, including investigating the primate-human evolution, brain scans to see the speaking nerves, and speaking worldwide and new languages - including Klingon and sign language. Episode two focuses on identities in language, including how you are recognised by your accent, how languages have died and dialects. Episode three focuses on the evolution of slang and profanity (swearing), almost how we express emotions, including obscenity in other languages, Tourette syndrome sufferers, the Stroop effect using ice water to show swearing used during pain, racial and sexual explicits, euphemisms, politeness, modern teenage slang with hip hop in popular media. Episode four focuses on how we learnt to read and write, and how writing has spread words around the world, including early evidence of written word, such as hieroglyphics, the origins of the alphabet, the Ten Commandments, printing, Chinese signs, the encyclopedia and Wikipedia. Episode five focuses on some of the most well known writers of the world, and the influence of story telling and literature, including the works of William Shakespeare, Homer's Odyssey, James Joyce, J.R.R. Tolkien, George Orwell, and also the argument that songs have great writing and influence as well, like "Fix You" by Coldplay. With contributions from Stephen K. Amos, Brian Blessed, Richard Curtis, Omid Djalili, Marathon Man writer William Goldman, Peter Jackson and David Tennant. I should say the best part of the whole series was definitely seeing Fry, a man who only swears when the occasion calls for, going against Blessed who swears very frequently, to see how long they can last in ice cold water with and without swearing, one of the funniest things ever, in a most interesting factual show from a wonderful presenter and national treasure. Very good!
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