Presented by: Ida Kramer and Margaret Garside

Review written by: Margaret Garside 476.Adventures in Literature

On Thursday 26th February our group was entertained by excerpts from Stephen Fry’s DVD “Evolution of Language” in which he covered many aspects of communication over the centuries by animals and humans. He ranged from many types such as vocal to deaf by signage all of which are constantly changing to suit the language of the day and age.  The many different dialects, which can occur in one country, of ancient languages in isolated pockets of the world and language in which some words become universal regardless of creed or culture.

He spoke of some languages, which were suppressed when the people were taken over and governed by another country.  We became aware of how the Basque language in Spain has lasted through 12 generations, who say they not only speak the words but their food is linked and it’s a way of life to half a million Basque speakers.

We heard of various types of alphabets to promote writing such as cuneiform, and hieroglyphics, how the Rosetta stone was found and deciphered to read and understand the Dead Sea Scrolls.  How printing was invented in China about 400 years before Gutenberg, leading to the printing of books and eventually newspapers to inform the educated public.  Libraries became commonplace and today computers are taking over the place of encyclopedias in the home with the use of Wikipedia, Google and similar search engines.  These were thought to be the death knell of books, today there is a choice of hand held devices, iPads, eBooks, talking books but the written word is still a strong preference to enjoy a ‘good book’.  The Internet is now in daily use by the general public and is quicker to update than encyclopedias or dictionaries.

The film was followed by a lively and interesting discussion on how communication and language have changed throughout the world.


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