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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An hour-long history and discussion of wordplay
In this double-length episode of Fry's English Delight, Stephen delves into word games. With comparisons to how word games appear in other languages, he covers crosswords, puzzles, scrabble, and codebreaking, among other topics. As always, Stephen Fry manages to make an interesting topic even more of a delight to hear.

I did feel a bit sorry for the guest that...
Published on 3 Aug. 2011 by Simon Fraser

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars could use many words to describe this - good isn't one of them
Ouch - in my opinion Stephen Fry is an engish gentleman with a passion for subjects that others may find difficult to duplicate. It is with a heavy heart that I find myself unable to write many positives for this cd - it is quite heavy going and the sharp ending does feel quite an anticlimax. There are better BBC cd's for you to explore or even better treat yourself to a...
Published on 26 Nov. 2011 by thementalmen


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An hour-long history and discussion of wordplay, 3 Aug. 2011
By 
Simon Fraser (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fry's English Delight: Word Games (Audio CD)
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In this double-length episode of Fry's English Delight, Stephen delves into word games. With comparisons to how word games appear in other languages, he covers crosswords, puzzles, scrabble, and codebreaking, among other topics. As always, Stephen Fry manages to make an interesting topic even more of a delight to hear.

I did feel a bit sorry for the guest that Fry interviewed for the latter half of the programme, the College Enigmatist of St Catherine's, Chris Maslanka. His breathing was very loud and laboured, and he sounded deathly ill while he wasn't speaking. He seemed to spring into life when talking, though, and was clearly very enthusiastic and knowledgable. Concerns about his health were somewhat distracting, all the same.

The show ended rather abruptly, without any apparent wind-down or conclusion. Perhaps it's not the best organised programme, but it is still a very interesting one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is English the most playful language?, 31 July 2011
By 
badger (london) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fry's English Delight: Word Games (Audio CD)
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This audio programme starts with very light hearted examples and discussions about language games. Is English the most playful of all languages? You will know the answer to this question and I won't spoil the fun by giving it away. Then the whole debate turns very technical and serious. Interviews with mathematicians, linguists and examples of how world war II enigma code was broken and how all those clever puzzle lovers had to be recruited to help. The second part does get a bit too technical and a bit too academic for my own liking, but if you are into this kind of thing, then this is certainly an interesting bit of radio for you. The programme was recorded for radio 4 originally and is now a stand a lone piece on CD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Word Was Good, 18 Aug. 2011
By 
Mr. M. A. Reed (Argleton, GB) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fry's English Delight: Word Games (Audio CD)
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Stephen Fry - the second greatest living Englishman after me - presents an extended version of his fascinating, flippant and flowering exploration of the English language, in this Fry's English Delight : it's a fun and curious look at the way in which we perceive the world and how language shapes it. Now, in this extended episode which is, to all intents and purposes, just a radio show, Fry uses the opportunity to explore word games - and perhaps obtusely explore the use of words themselves. He interviews names known and unknown to reveal the existence of multilingual crosswords and double entrederes, the use of dropouts, extended words, anagrams, penagrams, and all manner of other linguistic feats of logic, lunacy, and literacy in an effortlessly effervescent exclamation of essentially English eccentricity. Fry may very well be a towering prince of serious whimsy, but this is by no means essential listening, an interesting diversion designed for devouring by the curious and the wise who are taking a detour into the high seas of deep thought and strange language.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars could use many words to describe this - good isn't one of them, 26 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Fry's English Delight: Word Games (Audio CD)
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Ouch - in my opinion Stephen Fry is an engish gentleman with a passion for subjects that others may find difficult to duplicate. It is with a heavy heart that I find myself unable to write many positives for this cd - it is quite heavy going and the sharp ending does feel quite an anticlimax. There are better BBC cd's for you to explore or even better treat yourself to a nice biscuit and an episode of QI. Very tempted to use the cd as a coaster....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At only one disk it's a little short, but it is interesting if unexciting and lacking passion., 25 Aug. 2011
By 
G. Wake "gregwake" (Newcastle, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fry's English Delight: Word Games (Audio CD)
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I don't know why but I was expecting this to be more than just one CD. I've got other CDs in this series and I find the larger sets better because you can really get into the topic. I found with this it ended just as I was settling into listening to it.

Having listened to this CD I find I'm having some difficulty in writing much about it as, despite the title, there is little evidence of Mr Fry taking any delight in the subject. It's true he is his usual clever and playful self, and if you're a fan of Stephen Fry this may well be enough for you, but the programme just doesn't feel like he was that interested in it. It falls down because it sounds more like someone smart telling you something important than someone interesting telling you about something they love. All the interesting little facts and stories go some way to making up for this, but with a little more passion this programme could have been so much better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really what I was expecting, 14 Sept. 2011
By 
B. Smyth "smyth86" (Crawley) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fry's English Delight: Word Games (Audio CD)
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Before a long journey to France this August I decided to get a good slection of BBC Audio CDs for the trip. Stephen Fry is one person who I really enjoy listening to. I bought this on the assuption this would be a laugh out loud CD which unfortunately it wasn't. But, it wasn't supposed to be. I think a previous reviewer was spot in saying this would be a good listen on the radio but not really something which needed to be released on CD.

That said though, it was enjoyable and certainly very interesting and perhaps my expectations of the CD have led me to a more negative review thn it perhaps deserves. For Stephen Fry fans this is something you will enjoy as it is classic Stephen Fry. But for those looking for a comical, laugh out loud CD to listen to on a long journey, this isn't really what you are looking for.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quite Interesting - but probably better heard on the radio, 11 Aug. 2011
By 
A. M. Hendry (Scottish Borders) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fry's English Delight: Word Games (Audio CD)
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Stephen Fry is an immensely erudite man, and I love watching him on QI - however, for me, this audiobook did not do him justice. While supposedly attempting to answer questions on whether English is more suited to wordplay and word games, the segments on each topic seem to jump around a lot while offering snippets of enlightening information, but perhaps never quite answering its own question. For a CD less than an hour long, it does seem ambitious to try to encapsulate so many small topics. I listen to audiobooks to stave off boredom when doing manual tasks at work, but it just wasn't in-depth enough to give me something to concentrate on.

'Font or cheese', however, did make me chuckle.
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3.0 out of 5 stars For a one-off listen it's certainly interesting, but does it warrant an audiobook release?, 7 Aug. 2011
By 
Chris Hall "DLS Reviews" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fry's English Delight: Word Games (Audio CD)
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Length:: 4:00 Mins

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 back on the 28th December 2010, Stephen Fry's special on 'Word Games' from the popular 'English Delight' series, later saw an exclusive extended edition release into audiobook format.

Running for just over 49 minutes (although marked as having a running time of 1 hour), the audiobook which is presented by Stephen Fry, takes the listener through a reasonably interesting discussion on the delights of the English language. Fry attempts to examine whether or not the English language is an innately playful language. The audiobook takes a somewhat brisk tour through some of the most popular word games that incorporate the enjoyable play with the English language, as well as the time-tested popularity of riddles, pangrams and limericks to name but a few. Throughout the audiobook the imaginative play of wordage is clumsily (and often erratically) dissected over the ensuing 49 minutes, with segments and chapters not really meeting any eventual finality or satisfying conclusion.

Humour is surprisingly infrequent and only light and overly subtle when it does immerge. This is a shame as the subject matter does need a more witty touch to be applied to keep the listeners interest and engagement throughout its moderate length - particularly if being played whilst 'on the move'.

However, the real question that immediately must be asked is whether or not this really should have been given its own standalone release as an audiobook? Does the content really warrant repeated play? Is there really enough in the discussion to be anything more than a reasonably informative and enjoyable listen from the radio? For me, I'd have to say the answer is no on all accounts.

Although it is moderately interesting and informative, it is nevertheless the sort of thing that you would only really listen to the once. I certainly cannot envisage picking the CD back up off the shelf in the foreseeable future. Perhaps in a number of years, if I were to stumble across it on the shelf and fail to remember much of its content. But for me that certainly doesn't justify itself as a good purchase.

So that's the audiobook in a nutshell for me. For a one-off listen it's quite interesting (pardon the Stephen Fry pun) and moderately informative, with the odd chuckle scattered about here and there, but little else. For anything more (as a purchasable audiobook suggests) it's sadly lacking in any repeatable-listen qualities. But then that's possibly just my opinion!

Here's the audiobooks complete tracklisting to give you a further idea of the content:

1. Palindromes, Pangrams, Charades and a Riddle
2. Is English as a Language Especially Game for a Game?
3. A Challenge
4. A Riddle and Some Cheese
5. Word Games are Good for you
6. Word Association
7. Answers
8. An Enigmatist Speaks
9. Dropouts
10. Crosswords and Other Stuff
11. The Beauty of =
12. The Frame Game
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2.0 out of 5 stars A thin cut slice of Orator's Forte, 28 July 2011
By 
Andromeda Descendent (Tarn Vedra) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fry's English Delight: Word Games (Audio CD)
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Although on the radio this 50-minute programme (and it is 50 minutes, not 1 hour as it says on the sleeve) could be said to quite amicably pass the time, when you have to pay for it (and presumably put it on your shelf for repeated listening), it has to come under more serious scrutiny. I'm a fan of Stephen Fry and it's always good to hear someone hosting a programme on the English language who so clearly loves it in form, application and all its playful nuances. For good or for bad, listening to this CD is almost like joining him and a few friends round the table at a dinner party - it covers many an interesting subject and word game in quite a short amount of time, but never dwells long enough on any of the questions it asks to give any in depth knowledge or actually answer any of the questions it raises.

Yes, there's some interesting stuff in there but it is frustrating how often the subject changes just as you're getting interested and would like to hear more. The central question of whether or not English is any more playful than other languages is never adequately answered, interrupted as often as it is by fanciful asides such as "font or cheese" and the assumption that anyone cares what Phil Jupitus does to unwind. Context, of course, is everything and if Stephen Fry had set out to write a book on this subject, it would surely be in-depth and answer the questions it would pose. Not all radio programmes can, or perhaps even should stand up on their own as commercial releases. Nevertheless, if this had been continued into three episodes instead of one, I'm sure it would be a worthwhile buy. In the context of there being other CD sets of Fry's English Delight to purchase, some people may wish to get this for completeness, but on its own, and in my humble opinion, it's simply not worth it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars To pun or not to pun? An introduction to the fun of word play, 26 July 2011
By 
David Spanswick (Brighton United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fry's English Delight: Word Games (Audio CD)
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From the very much intended pun in the title and the fruity delivery from the QI question master you know that you are in for a delight to the ear and to the intellect.
"word games" appears to define a very English preoccupation from the daily cross word to the party game of Charades.

In this extended,/attenuated/ lengthened/elongated/ augmented episode of the Fry Christmas Show our Stephen jumps about all over the place to discover/unearth the hidden joys of the language/tongue that have brought so much pleasure/amusement
to our literary ancestors since time immemorial. OK I will let the Thesaurus rest now though the temptation is so great when writing a review about the sheer joy of playing with words.

Historically, it would appear that puns are some of the earliest jokes, not to mention some of the corniest and are practically impossible to translate into another language as they simply don't work. Are there languages that are unpunnable I wonder? And who was the first writer to have enough time on his hands to toy with the palindrome or the pangram. After hearing about this latter it is almost impossible not to attempt one for yourself. Go on, if you are reading this you are considering buying the CD and should know that a pangram is a sentence that contains every letter of the alphabet once and others not so very often.

Riddles, too, have always been a fascination to the reader as witnessed in modern books ranging from Dan Brown to J.K.Rowling and the story of the enigmatist appointment ( though unsalaried) does tempt one to change the direction of one's career or, at the very least, one's hobbies.

The treasure Hunt, too, has long been a fascinating pastime of the idle classes and maybe we are overdue for a return of this oh so very English clue-laden pursuit which also might explain our continued absorption of the crime thriller and its televisual counterpart. There must be something to explain Midsomer Murders surely.

Our language as explained by Fry & Co ~ there are extensive guest appearances by language experts, comedians, intellectuals, academics et. al ~ is one rich with nuance that can be used not only in relaxation but also in therapy not to mention creativity.

This CD recording both amusing and educational is just long enough for a frustrating commute into the city by train, bus, car or bike though probably not one that you will need to hear very often but hopefully will give you a renewed enthusiasm to examine the every day tool of communication
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Fry's English Delight: Word Games by Stephen Fry (Audio CD - 7 July 2011)
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