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on 9 August 2017
Just great. Learning by listening.
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VINE VOICEon 26 March 2010
I can see it now - the reviews for this CD are mostly going to say something to the effect of 'Good, but doesn't live up to its predecessor'. Having listened to the previous one, I wholeheartedly agree: this isn't as good as the previous one...

...But then there's the competition. There are many fine audio CD's out there, but few so engaging, entertaining and enlightening (in equal measure). And none have the poise & balance of Stephen Fry who seems to be a master of Taoist principles (i.e. never being too much of any one thing).

To give you an idea of what you'll get, here are the sections in order:

1) So Wrong It's Right.
This is an interesting section on the evolution of language and how 'wrong' use of language can often become right as people start using the mistakes (e.g. the split-infinitive on Star Trek: 'To Boldly Go'). Somehow not quite up to the peerless brilliance of the first Series, this section still has a lot of interesting material, such as Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo (a complete, grammatical English sentence for reasons detailed on the CD).
On top of this, this episode also explores how English is different depending on situation (e.g. Courtroom or Boardroom). Curiously, it further includes an interview with an Academie Francaise rebel, who has chosen to put English words and different spelling of French words in a French language dictionary since "A dictionary is an observatory, not a conservatory".

2) Speaking Proper.
I found this one better than the first as it explores a vital subject in English: how to communicate effectively. In my humble opinion it should be played to every schoolchild and migrant to our shores as it details how to clearly transmit ideas, without mispronunciation and sloppy use of language. This episode covers elocution, accents, voice control and delivery, outlining how to educate yourself in better speech patterns.

3) Hello.
Like 1), this isn't quite as brilliant as series one, but still interesting. Here the origins of the word 'Hello' are explored, including all the different greetings that can be used in English and how they can be used in a myriad of different ways.
Naturally it includes Leslie Phillips classic 'Hello' from the Carry On films, as well as Cabin Crew whose job consists of saying 'Hello' approximately 1/2 a million times in their careers!

4) The Joy of Gibberish.
A bonus episode on the end, but actually the best of the bunch as it is a typical Stephen Fry/ QI topic. Gibberish is explored as a concept and Fry shows off his knowledge of comedians who have dabbled in speaking nonsense as a profession. Curiously this includes an eclectic mix of the Irish (James Joyce), A Dadaist 30 minute nonsense poem (Die Sonata in Urlauten), Baby-talk, music and Stanley Unwin (a famous nonsense comedian from the 50's/60's).
I was tempted to give this CD only 4 stars, but this last episode really does deliver the goods. Possibly because its from 2006 (as opposed to 2009 for the others), but no matter - it still makes the series live up to Fry's high standards.
Oh, and it has one of those delicious QI bits of trivia. 'Dagwood Bumstead' is a phrase that (when repeated enough times) is said to either bring true enlightenment or drive you completely insane. Haven't tried it myself, but interesting to know...

So, all in all, I commend this CD as good stuff & ideal entertainment for listening to in the Car (I have shared this CD and Series 1 with friends and they all agree!)
Fry has set high standards for himself (especially with Fry and Laurie Read Daudet and Jerome &Stephen Fry Presents - Short Stories by Anton Chekhov) and although this CD isn't his best, it is still far above the efforts of other entertainers on Radio 4 and is up there in content with his QI work.
Here's hoping for a third series!
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VINE VOICEon 30 March 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have to admit that this CD set was not what I was expecting. I had hoped, like many reviewers here it seems, for an amusing and interesting look at language with Fry interspersing little known facts with his trademark wry humour, much like he does on the show QI. However, this is a much more serious and earnest look at language than I anticipated.

If you are really fascinated by the development of certain forms of language and the way it changes over time, then you will probably enjoy this and find it educational. However, if talk of split infinitives, Latin traditions, where the `subject' should come in sentances and the suggestions of the Spelling Reform Society don't float your boat then this is not for you.

It's also worth saying that Stephen Fry features in probably at most fifty per cent of these programmes, with the rest of the time being given to various lecturers or experts in grammar. Fry holds it together nicely and of course he is quite easy to listen to, and he does add the odd sprinkling of gently amusing commentary, but the other contributors are all strictly business.

If you fancy concentrating hard, listening closely and learning lots then these CDs should please you, but if you are looking for easy listening and some classic Fry humour then you'd be best to look elsewhere, as like me you will at the most find these O.M.I. - Only Mildly Interesting.
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on 19 April 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
BBC Radio 4 creates much of the best comedy available on the radio. However, it is also a station that has some of the best radio documentaries. When I received `Fry's English Delight: Season 2' I first thought it would be in keeping with the likes of `Just a Minute' and `I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue' i.e. intelligent comedy that features Stephen Fry. However, this was not the case as `English Delight' is a far more straight forward documentary that covers four areas of the English language and the peculiarities within. With my initial shock over I soon began to enjoy this rather highbrow look at out language. Although Fry tries to make the show jovial and easily accessible, I feel that the high concepts and rich vocabulary will put some people off who prefer easier listening.

However, as someone who is keen to learn, and has been known to use ten words when one would do, I found the series informative and entertaining. This was entertainment in the sense of being interesting, rather than laugh out load. Fry himself acts as a narrator creating a thread between a series of interviews with experts. At times this narrative felt a little forced, like the time Fry pretends to be conducting an interview, but it feels as if the responses were pre-recorded. This is a slightly awkward part of the CD, and others arise when less confident interviewees are being recorded. They seem to be aware that they are recording for a documentary on language so over pronounce everything so they appear to be intelligent.

Despite my grumblings over some of the techniques used to create a narrative whole, `English Delight' is still a great listen. It is a genuinely interesting series that taught me several new things. Also despite not being a comedy, Fry's relaxed voice and jovial script means that it remains funny at times anyway.
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VINE VOICEon 24 March 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
To some he sounds quite the hopeless, pompous twit from Oxbridge to others he is quintessential English wit (yes I did spell that WIT the other word you were perhaps expecting me to say would have got me censored!) Which of the two do I think he falls into? I used to think the former category but now I think he's the latter. Stephen Fry's mastery of the English language is apparent at the outset, as he takes us on an almost magical mystery tour of English language and its usage, utilising razor sharp wit. He is well supported by many other excellent contributors on various topics. The 3 episodes: "So Wrong its right", "speaking proper" & "Hello" as well as a bonus episode "Joy of gibberish" are broken up into bite size chunks a couple of minutes each so you can quickly listen to a few snippets when you want to kill a bit of time. Within each episode a lot of background material is covered so you will learn a lot about the English language you might not otherwise have been aware of. Its wonderful, cheerful, witty informative listening material and well worth the price if you like this sort of thing. My only criticism of it is that there is only 2 hours in total and you cant just casually listen to it in the background (well I at least I couldn't!) you do have to listen quite carefully without too many other distractions.
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on 26 May 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Originally I expected an entertaining, witty journey Stephen Fry style into language, but I found myself 20 minutes in thinking: 'where's all the sharp, witty observations and humurous remarks that Fry is best known for?'.
I thought I was going to be a bit like Qi; funny and somewhat educational, in the sense of learning a few odd facts and bits to impress people!

While this is worth a listen I wouldn't imagine putting it on again, Its something that would be more at home playing in an A-Level English classroom rather than in your CD player for a bit of "light entertainment". I actually found myself thinking 'how am I going to remember all this?' like it was some kind of revision CD.
Another letdown was the fact that this is by no means 100% Fry, probably not even 70%, it seems he is there only to introduce the next quote or conversation by some expert in the language, with Fry himself only briefly commenting on some parts.
So i'd say the best chapter is definately 'Gibberish' because it is actually entertaining. If you are after an English lesson buy this, if you want a funny account of the language by Stephen Fry its probably best to avoid this.
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VINE VOICEon 20 March 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As someone who has long had a fascination with the origins and usage of the English language, these four half-hour episode seemed to be made specifically for me.
I am also a huge fan of Fry's quiz show QI and this is just another showcase for his charm, humour and astonishing intelligence. He also calls upon experts in the fields of language to offer insights, as well as offering various musical interludes and clips of the likes of Ronnie Barker and Spike Milligan.

'So Wrong It's Right' - Fry examines the way in which common usage changes the English language so that the 'wrong' words or phrases come to be the 'right' ones over time.

'Speaking Proper' - A look into pronounciation and enunciation and how they affect the way in which we communicate.

'Hello' - An investigation into the definition (or lack thereof) and origins of one of the most commonly used words in the world.

'The Joy of Gibberish' - The most whimsical of the episodes on offer, showing that nonsense and gibberish are essential parts of language.

Overall this audiobook made for a stimulating, educational and fun couple of hours of listening. Recommended for anyone with an interest in English or who just like listening to comfortingly witty sound of Fry's voice. The only downside was that I was dying to hear more when CD2 ended!
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VINE VOICEon 17 April 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Stephen Fry delves deeper into the development of English language in Fry's English Delight. Just where did the term "hello" come from - a variety of sources it turns out. Is "double dutch", English so to speak? Indeed, what role does "double dutch" have in today's English modern language? It seems out quite a lot as made up words and terms have been used in pop songs for years. Remember those Manfred Mann songs, for instance.

And how has language changed? Pick a phrase like "Wireless" and ask the older generation what they think it means. Most will say "radio" but these days "wireless" is a term used to refer to Wi - Fi by many. Fry's examines this and speaks to the experts in the linquistic field.

This series is a fascinating for both native and non native speakers of the English language. Fry could read the Yellow Pages and it would sound interesting. With this series, Fry and the content he presents, forms a fascinating partnership.
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VINE VOICEon 4 April 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This works beautifully on a couple of levels.

If, like me, you find something relaxing about listening to Stephen Fry wax lyrical on his subject of choice (and I would assume many of us due owing to the popularity of his podcasts), then this is a perfectly enjoyable CD.

If you want more though, the programmes here don't disappoint. I've always been fascinated by language and how we use it and the information here, especially the programme concerning gibberish, is a brilliant insight into what often passes for everyday speech.

Whilst the information contained herein is interesting, it would be all too easy to render the dialogue into a boring lecture format, but Fry himself seems genuinely excited by the points of discussion and, ultimately, it's his enthusiasm that carries this CD from interesting curio into something that I will most certainly be coming back to.
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VINE VOICEon 23 March 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This consists of two CDs containing four episodes - almost two hours' worth - of Stephen Fry's Radio 4 program on the foibles of the English language (series two, broadcast August 2009, plus one bonus episode). The discussion is interspersed with comments by academics and other experts, but remains light rather than dry, interspersed with examples taken from children's rhymes, songs and comedians. It's a discussion that will appeal to and amuse those with an interest in the English language and wordplay.

Episode 1: So Wrong, It's Right
Trying to ban words cannot be done. Language is 'democratic,' in the sense that we are collectively in charge of it, and evolves naturally, so what was regarded as wrong comes to be accepted (for example, split infinitives). The real rules are those all speakers know and cannot break. Language is shaped by usage, rather than imposed legislation. Malapropisms can be incorporated into correct usage (egg-corns). The same word can have contrary meanings, e.g. 'sanctions.' Dictionaries record how language is used, thus 'disinterested' shifts from meaning impartial to uninterested.

Episode 2: Speaking Proper
Notes that there are different ways of pronouncing words as common as 'garage,' 'analogous,' and 'evolution.' What's right and what's wrong? This leads, again, to the suggestion that it's impossible to impose rules for 'proper' pronunciation. Distinguishes regional accents from mere annunciation - it's possible to speak clearly in any accent, but some people find it much easier to change their voices than others (and professional impersonators use different areas of their brain to do so).

Episode 3: Hello
The widely used greeting 'hello' doesn't have a context-independent meaning, but can be used to mean many things. In Shakespearean times, it was mostly simply an exclamation, used to address dogs or maybe those off-stage, but with 'how now?' or 'what cheer?' serving as greetings (the latter eventually becoming 'watcha').

Bonus: The Joy of Gibberish
First broadcast in January 2006, an episode of a previous series in which Fry explores gibberish and babbling, from the mouths of children, but going on to the nonsense of the Dadaists and repetitious chanting.
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