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I have to admit that this CD set was not what I was expecting. I had hoped, like many reviewers on Amazon 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.
It is a two CD set containing the second series of Fry's English Delight which was originally broadcast on Radio 2. There are four episodes. The first is called 'So wrong it's right' and looks at how language changes with use and certain words or phrases change their meaning over time. The second is 'Speaking Proper' and looks at enunciation and pronunciation, the third is 'Hello' which looks at the origins of this oft-used greeting, and the fourth is 'The Joy of Gibberish' which examines why we love saying and singing what is essentially nonsense.
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.
The CD set has an RRP of £12.99 but Amazon.co.uk are currently selling it for £7.28. I would recommend getting it from the library though as I can't imagine many people wanting to listen to these over and over - once was more than enough for me!
(updated and revised from my review on Amazon.co.uk)