Fry’s Planet Word

There’s a new series on the BBC at the moment called Fry’s Planet Word. I just watched the first episode in which Stephen Fry explores the origins of language, and asks how it’s acquired, why only humans have language, why there are so many languages, and so on. He also touches on sign language and conlangs. He doesn’t cover anything in great detail, but it’s very interesting nonetheless.

7 thoughts on “Fry’s Planet Word

  1. It was good to see Stephen Fry taking Esperanto seriously on his programme “Planet Word”. Unfortunately the representative from the United Nations – who claimed she was an expert on the subject – knew absolutely nothing about the language.

    Not only did she not know that Esperanto intends to be an auxiliary language for all but did not know either that the World Esperanto Association enjoys consultative relations with the United Nations and is using that position to defend the rights of all minority languages. Confirmation is here

  2. I was cynical that this would be take a very dumbed- down approach but was pleasently surprised (although I do understand that it has to entertain people who are not so interested in language/speech ).

  3. In Planet Word last night the gentlemen in the golf club bar in Connemara might have answered more instructively when asked about the differences in ways of saying things in Irish and English.

    Irish is rich in words and expressions that cover personal interaction and attitudes to that interaction. These often suggest the Irish were an ironic people even before they started speaking English.

    A short list below is made up of Irish words still used in everyday speech by English speakers in Waterford, the county which has the smallest remaining Irish-speaking area. Most counties have no such area.

    Flaithiúlach (pr. ‘flahoolock’) = wilfully, even wastefully, generous;

    Gaisce (‘goshka’) = a great deed, as done by an ostentatious do-gooder;

    Meas (‘mass’) = regard or esteem based on experience of the subject rather than on affinity, interest or inclination;

    Plámás (‘plawmawss’) = soothing flattery designed to bluff, placate or cajole;

    Searbhas (‘sharoose’) = a form of dismissiveness derived from the word for bitter (searbh), this is negativity with touches of the ungrateful and defeatist;

    Trína chéile (‘treenakayla’) = literally ‘between together’, this means a state of inability to interact with oneself, which is something more than confused.

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