Broadcaster: BBC TWO

Year: 2011

Genre: Language, Documentary, History of English, Sociolinguistics


Review by: Lerah Mae Barcenilla

Fry’s Planet Word is a five-part series, which ran from the 25th September to the 23rd October 2011 and ‘explores language, coming to understand how we learn it, write it and sometimes lose it, and why it defines us’. In this episode, Fry explores the written word and its evolution with the help of the development of the printing press, to the emergence of new mediums of technological advancements in the twenty-first century in the form of online blogging and the accessibility of knowledge with only one click away. Certain sections of this episode is particularly relevant to the history of the English language and perhaps, some aspects of modern-day linguistics and how language has changed over the years.

It is worth watching the whole episode, but her are particular scenes of note:

  • 35:00 – Chaucer, printing press
  • 0:37:21 – English in the Middle Ages
  • 0:38:00 – Caxton, made the ‘English language more stable’
  • 0:40:45 – ‘The Age of Reason’, ‘The Enlightenment’
  • 0:47:20 – The digital age, blogging