The history of the English language - a documentary

One of the most creative and informative documentaries about the English language is "The Adventure of English: 500 AD to 2000", produced by the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) in 2003, and presented by Melvyn Bragg.

It begins by showing the ancient relatives to English, whose Frisian - spoken in northern Holland - is the closest tongue. From those lowlands, the Anglo-Saxon invaded the Britain island, where they defeated the native Celt (or Welsh), who were enslaved by the former. And then, began the journey of the language.

Although the documentary is filled with linguistic details, a multidisciplinary approach is its spine. The background is based on information given through interviews, illustrations, acting, literature quotations, archaeological evidence and so on.. Nevertheless, its wealth is made of an uncountable number of exemplifications in the modern use of the language, which cleverly grasps the audience's attention.

After the above mentioned first contact with Gaelic (the Celt's language) and a glance at Viking languages (Danish for example) afterwards, French and Latin added a wide vocabulary and flexible structure, due to Norman invasion and Church domain upon the Britain. Yet English has started to invade other continents (America, India, China, Africa, and Australia), Greek, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Persian and Turkish made their contribution to enriching, even more, the range of possibilities in English before it finally became a worldwide tongue.

Despite its drips of ideology trying to point out its romantic aspects, this documentary is magical and attractive. Hence, The Adventure of English is worth watching if you want to enlarge not only your English skills but also fill your well  of knowledge with a little pool of cultural wisdom, which was precisely selected by one wise and cult TV channel, well-known for its quality and high standards.

Review written for the Cambridge Proficiency English course, The English Academy, Dublin, 2016.

Arriety - one of The Borrowers

Have you ever imagined teeny-weeny people living in the small underfloor gaps and hollow walls of your house? So, astonishing as it might be, you could neither  see them nor feel their presence. As a living, these tiny beings "borrow" stuff from your house, as they would allege, although you would not be able to miss it either. This is the plot of "Arriety" a Japanese anime version of the English book "The Borrowers". Directed by Hayao Miyazaki from Studio Ghibli, both considered legends of the animation world.

Arriety (left) and Sho (right) having a meaningful talk about diversity and life

The story is set against a backdrop of a comfy gardened country house on the outskirts of a city. Sho is a weak but docile kid who suffers from a heart problem and is led by his aunt to stay a while in the house to rest before having surgery. As soon as he gets the house comes across the tiny Arriety, a prime example of Ghibli's heroine, whose personality is a mix of bravery, audacity and daring, tempered by a pinch of gorgeousness, mercy and high-mindedness.

The plot interweaves themes of freedom, empathy for the weakling, sympathy for all being and the environment, and the meaning of life. These topics reach a peak in a warm but sincere dialogue between the two protagonists, as an aftermath of the boy's recklessness which unfold a poignant displacement for the minuscule family. Sho turns to Arriety saying that "is is a pitiful fate as the environment changes and beautiful species are doomed to disappear". The heroine, notwithstanding, states that "regretfully the ones who fight against the changes and protect the environment are those condemned to be wiped out".

These quotes are metaphorical parallels with real life, and would help the youth to concern about its choices and stances in light of the issues raised by the film. An endless and timeless dispute between "controlled progress" and the so-called "chaotic self-evolution of the wilderness".

Review written for the Cambridge Proficiency English course, The English Academy, Dublin, 2016.