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Planet Word [Hardcover]

Stephen Fry , J. P. Davidson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: 25.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

29 Sep 2011

Unravel the mysteries of language with J.P. Davidson's remarkable Planet Word.

'The way you speak is who you are and the tones of your voice and the tricks of your emailing and tweeting and letter-writing, can be recognised unmistakably in the minds of those who know and love you.' Stephen Fry

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 yourself at textese - do you know your RMEs from your LOLs? Meet the 105-year-old man who invented modern-day Chinese and all but eradicated illiteracy, and find out why language caused the go-light in Japan to be blue. From the dusty scrolls of the past to the unknown digital future, and with (heart) the first graphic to enter the OED, are we already well on our way to a language without words?

In a round-the-world trip of a lifetime, discover all this and more as J. P. Davidson travels across our gloriously, endlessly intriguing multilingual Planet Word.

John Paul Davidson is a film and television director and producer. After studying at Bristol University and completing his doctoral field work in The University of Malysia, he joined the BBC's Travel and Exploration Unit as their resident anthropologist.

Stephen Fry's film, stage, radio and television credits are numerous and wide-ranging. He has written, produced, directed, acted in or presented productions as varied as Wilde, Blackadder, Jeeves and Wooster, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Fry's English Delight and QI. After writing many successful books, his recent memoir The Fry Chronicles was a number one bestseller.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph; 1st Edition edition (29 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718157745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718157746
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Fry is one of Britain's national treasures and his television appearances include 'A Bit Of Fry and Laurie', 'Jeeves and Wooster', 'Blackadder', 'QI' and 'Kingdom'. His film roles include 'Peter's Friends' and 'Wilde'; and in the realm of television, the Emmy-award-winning 'The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive'. As a writer, he best known for his novel The Liar as well as his acclaimed autobiography Moab Is My Washpot, and his is the famous voice of the Harry Potter audio books.

Product Description


Arguably the greatest living Englishman (Independent on Sunday)

Fry's linguistic facility remains one of the Wildean wonders of the new media age. The patron saint of British intelligence (Daily Telegraph)

About the Author

John Paul Davidson is a film and television director and producer. After completing his doctoral field work in Malaysia, he joined the BBC's Travel and Exploration Unit as their resident anthropologist and learned how to say 'action' in over fifty languages.

Stephen Fry is an award-winning comedian, actor, presenter and director. He rose to fame alongside Hugh Laurie in A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. He currently hosts the popular quiz show QI. His recent memoir, The Fry Chronicles, was a number one bestseller.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By J C E Hitchcock TOP 1000 REVIEWER
"Planet Word" was produced as a tie-in to the recent BBC documentary series of the same title. Stephen Fry, who acted as the presenter of the series, writes an introduction to the book. The main text, written by J P Davidson, follows the same format as the TV series, being divided into five sections corresponding to the five programmes broadcast in September and October of last year. The sections are entitled "Origins", dealing with various theories about the origins of language, "Identity", dealing with various political issues arising out of language and its relationship with nationalism and regionalism, "Uses and Abuses" dealing with types of language, such as slang and profanity, which have at various times been considered as abuses, "Spreading the Word" about the history of written language, and "The Power and the Glory", about the use of language in literature.

The book bills itself as "The story of language from the earliest grunts to Twitter and beyond", but it is not really an introduction to linguistics, and certainly not a serious attempt to tell the whole story of language throughout human history, an undertaking which would be well beyond the scope of a book of only some four hundred pages, many of which are taken up with notes and illustrations.

It is, in fact, essentially a compendium of facts about language. Davidson takes delight in exploding a few myths. It is not, for example, true that the Eskimo languages have hundreds of words for snow; they only have about six or seven basic roots to describe various types of snow.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating and funny 5 Oct 2011
I've been watching the series on the BBC and have been thoroughly enjoying it - Stephen relays so much information and meets so many fascinating people. The book takes the discussions even further - and there are lots of other areas covered too. It's a very funny read in parts! The book also includes lovely colour images so it makes a beautiful package. Can't wait for series 2!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A linguist's review of Planet Word 24 Nov 2011
Any educated lay reader will enjoy the range of topics covered in this book. The specialist linguist will find little new, however. It's a good book for a Christmas or birthday present for someone with a general interest in language, or an undergraduate studying linguistics or foreign languages. The best thing about the book is the wide range of topics and the way the relevance of language to other areas of human endeavour is developed by the author.

The fact that it is sold as being a Stephen Fry book is misleading. He only writes the preface, which is delivered in his usual witty and engaging manner. The main writer has a more academic style of writing. While I am used to this style (and probably write the same way myself!) I think some readers may wish for a lighter reading experience.

This book won't change your life but will give you some fascinating facts to reel off at dinner parties.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely informative and entertaining 12 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In fact,the book is so entertaining I usually read it in bed when I want to do some "light" reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A book for Word Smiths 11 Oct 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
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