Tuesday, November 06, 2012

History of English Podcast: a real treat

Here we have a real gem.  Something that ticks a lot of boxes for me.

The History of English Podcast is a history of the English language, but it's so much more than its prosaic name suggests.

Yes, it's history and linguistics, but it actually crosses several disciplines, including archeology, evolution and genetics.

It has a wealth of information and insights in a number of areas.  For me, it fills in a lot of gaps in my knowledge, and by this I mean it better systematises my understanding of several key fields of study, including the English language, alphabets and writing, comparative linguistics and the history of ancient and classical civilisations.

It's also clear and lucid - to the point of being slightly repetitive (which is not necessarily a bad thing for a podcast - you're not always paying full attention, are you?)

In common with several of my preferred podcasts, it's presented by a gifted enthusiast rather than a professional.  Kevin Stroud is a lawyer by trade - hence his interest - who would seem to come from one of the Carolinas. He has a regional US accent which is reasonably easy to listen to - except when it comes to words like wheel ('will') and field ('filled').

He's been at it since about July 2012, at the rate of about one episode every two weeks.  He'd already put out about 11 episodes when I came across it, and it was quick, easy and pleasurable to catch up.  I don't know how long he can keep it up - he's already finished the Greeks, and will do the Romans later this month.  But I'd be perfectly happy to listen if he wants to string it out.

The History of English Podcast is my vote for podcast of the year.


bazza said...

I just listened to the introductory episode. Oh boy! - that's right up my street. I enjoyed Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct, a wonderful book which covers similar territory.
Looking forward to that beer next week!
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

gorse43 said...

I am tickled to read that you find Stroud's regional American accent "reasonably easy to listen to." Have I stumbled upon a fellow listener who not only notices regional accents, but notices regional American accents as an Australian? Bravo!

But are you not bothered as I am by "old" pronounced as "ode"?

S Simmonds said...

My brain is not really tuning into the similarities with Australian accents. It's just that, like the regional Australian accents, my brain smoothes over the differences in interpreting what the ear hears.

I think part of the "problem" is that we have been inculcated American accents - of a variety of regions - by the sheer drilling persistence of American film and tv.

But Kevin speaks with a pleasantly pedestrian clarity, so you're not in danger of missing too much.