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Fry's English Delight: Series 2 Audio CD – Audiobook, 26 Dec 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 2 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Physical Audio (26 Dec. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408427435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408427439
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 14 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 509,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

Stephen Fry is a celebrated British actor, novelist, journalist, presenter, intellectual and wit. He has produced four novels and two volumes of autobiography, and has written for radio shows and TV. His TV credits include "Jeeves and Wooster" and "Blackadder, " and he hosted the BBC TV series "QI." His readings of the Harry Potter books have won him huge acclaim and several awards.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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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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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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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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