Mother Tongue

A six-part series in which Bill Bryson delves into the history of Britain to reveal how English became such a complex yet world-beating language.

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
Genome: [r4 Bd=19971213]

A six-part series in which Bill Bryson delves into the history of Britain to reveal how English became the complex yet world-beating language it is. 1:The Angles and Saxons Have Landed.A language shaped by invasion and conquest.

Producer Brian King. Rptd Sunday 8.30pm

* Bill Bryson 's Kind of Day: page 146

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971213]

A six-part series in which Bill Bryson delves into the history of Britain to reveal how English became the complex yet world-beating language it is. 1:The Angles and Saxons Have Landed.A language shaped by invasion and conquest.

Producer Brian King. Rptd Sunday 8.30pm

* Bill Bryson 's Kind of Day: page 146

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971213]

Unknown: Bill Bryson

Producer: Brian King.

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971213]

Unknown: Bill Bryson

Producer: Brian King.

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971214]

Bill Bryson looks into how the English language has evolved.

1: The Angles and Saxons Have Landed Repeated from yesterday 4pm

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971214]

Bill Bryson looks into how the English language has evolved.

1: The Angles and Saxons Have Landed Repeated from yesterday 4pm

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971214]

Unknown: Bill Bryson

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971214]

Unknown: Bill Bryson

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971220]

A six-part series in which Bill Bryson delves into the history of Britain to reveal how English became the language it is.

2: From "The Wife of Bath" to "The Merry Wives of Windsor"

A look at the way in which English was honed to perfection and then shipped out to the colonies. Repeated tomorrow 8.30pm

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971220]

A six-part series in which Bill Bryson delves into the history of Britain to reveal how English became the language it is.

2: From "The Wife of Bath" to "The Merry Wives of Windsor"

A look at the way in which English was honed to perfection and then shipped out to the colonies. Repeated tomorrow 8.30pm

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971220]
Genome: [r4 Bd=19971220]
Genome: [r4 Bd=19971221]

Repeated from yesterday 4pm

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971221]

Repeated from yesterday 4pm

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971227]

A six-part series in which Bill Bryson delves into the history of Britain to reveal how English became the language it is. 3: Bringing Order to a Disorderly Language. Who invented the rules of English? Producer Brian King

Repeated tomorrow 8.30pm

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971227]

A six-part series in which Bill Bryson delves into the history of Britain to reveal how English became the language it is. 3: Bringing Order to a Disorderly Language. Who invented the rules of English? Producer Brian King

Repeated tomorrow 8.30pm

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971227]
Genome: [r4 Bd=19971227]
Genome: [r4 Bd=19971228]

Bill Bryson investigates how English became the language it is. 3: Bringing Order to a Disorderly Language Repeated from yesterday 4pm

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971228]

Bill Bryson investigates how English became the language it is. 3: Bringing Order to a Disorderly Language Repeated from yesterday 4pm

Genome: [r4 Bd=19971228]
Genome: [r4 Bd=19971228]
01The Angles And Saxons Have Landed1997121319971214

A language shaped by invasion and conquest.

01The Angles And Saxons Have Landed1997121319971214

A language shaped by invasion and conquest.

02From The Wife Of Bath To The Merry Wives Of Windsor1997122019971221

A look at the way in which English was honed to perfection and then shipped out to the colonies.

02From The Wife Of Bath To The Merry Wives Of Windsor1997122019971221

A look at the way in which English was honed to perfection and then shipped out to the colonies.

03Bringing Order To A Disorderly Language1997122719971228

Who invented the rules of English, and what is the rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition for?

03Bringing Order To A Disorderly Language1997122719971228

Who invented the rules of English, and what is the rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition for?

04Riddle Me This1998010319980104

A million and one ways to have fun with the English language.

04Riddle Me This1998010319980104

A million and one ways to have fun with the English language.

05Struggling With Phrasal Verbs1998011019980111

The language which conquered the world, but which often loses something in translation.

05Struggling With Phrasal Verbs1998011019980111

The language which conquered the world, but which often loses something in translation.

06 LASTEstuary English Rules Ok?1998011719980118

Bill Bryson concludes his six-part journey around the English language with a look at its future.

06 LASTEstuary English Rules Ok?1998011719980118

Bill Bryson concludes his six-part journey around the English language with a look at its future.

01Bodies In Motion20170716

Helen Mort explores how movement filters through the work of some very different poets.

The first edition of a new globe-trotting poetry series. Poet Helen Mort explores exciting voices from around the world. This week, she hears poetry in Arabic, German and Spanish while thinking about the phrase 'Bodies in Motion': seeing how movement, through space and time, filters through the work of some very different poets.

Helen Mort travels to Paris to meet Syrian poet Golan Haji. He's drawn inspiration from many sources, including Bill Viola's video art and a pet ram. Being multilingual, for him, every piece of writing is an act of translation. They meet up with veteran American poet and translator Marilyn Hacker, to hear her version of a Haji poem and talk about the friendship struck up through this translation partnership.

A journey to the centre of the Earth; watching the Berlin Wall fall on a badly tuned TV; and a futuristic German language, have all inspired poems by the compelling German poet and performer, Ulrike Almut Sandig. She tells Helen Mort about her early political 'guerrilla poetry' project, 'eyemail', which found her pasting poems onto lampposts, and its live performance equivalent, which she calls, 'earmail'.

Exploring the fascinating process of translating a poem into another language, Helen Mort takes part in a poetry translation workshop at the Poetry Translation Centre in London. In this case, the original Spanish language poem is by Cuban poet Legna Rodriguez, about her experience of moving from Cuba to Miami. Progressing from the line-by-line literal translation towards a version made collectively, involves discussions on cliché and idioms - and on nuances of the noun 'sofa bed'!

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

01Bodies In Motion2017071620170722
01Bodies In Motion20170722
01Bodies In Motion20170722

Helen Mort explores how movement filters through the work of some very different poets.

The first edition of a new globe-trotting poetry series. Poet Helen Mort explores exciting voices from around the world. This week, she hears poetry in Arabic, German and Spanish while thinking about the phrase 'Bodies in Motion': seeing how movement, through space and time, filters through the work of some very different poets.

Helen Mort travels to Paris to meet Syrian poet Golan Haji. He's drawn inspiration from many sources, including Bill Viola's video art and a pet ram. Being multilingual, for him, every piece of writing is an act of translation. They meet up with veteran American poet and translator Marilyn Hacker, to hear her version of a Haji poem and talk about the friendship struck up through this translation partnership.

A journey to the centre of the Earth; watching the Berlin Wall fall on a badly tuned TV; and a futuristic German language, have all inspired poems by the compelling German poet and performer, Ulrike Almut Sandig. She tells Helen Mort about her early political 'guerrilla poetry' project, 'eyemail', which found her pasting poems onto lampposts, and its live performance equivalent, which she calls, 'earmail'.

Exploring the fascinating process of translating a poem into another language, Helen Mort takes part in a poetry translation workshop at the Poetry Translation Centre in London. In this case, the original Spanish language poem is by Cuban poet Legna Rodriguez, about her experience of moving from Cuba to Miami. Progressing from the line-by-line literal translation towards a version made collectively, involves discussions on cliché and idioms - and on nuances of the noun 'sofa bed'!

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

01Close Encounters20170806

Poetry series in which poet Helen Mort explores exciting voices from around the world.

The fourth edition of this new globe-trotting poetry series. Poet Helen Mort explores exciting voices from around the world. This week, she hears poems in Somali, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese and Polish - and in translation.

Reflecting on the phrase "Close Encounters", she explores how the very stuff of being human - relationships, identity, empathy - play a part in the work of these four distinct poets.

Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf is fast emerging as one of the most outstanding Somali-language poets writing today. Her bold and striking poems are translated by British poet Clare Pollard. They join Helen to talk about the place of poetry in Somali culture and their translation partnership, which came about through the Poetry Translation Centre. With poems from her collection The Sea Migrations.

Helen then travels to Paris to meet the Syrian poet Maram al-Masri and hear poems from her collection Barefoot Souls, which imagines the lives of women who have experienced domestic violence, and from Liberty Walks Naked, al-Masri's response to recent events in Syria.

There's deadpan humour from Angelica Freitas, a brilliantly wry voice from Brazil. She takes a novel approach to exploring female identity in her poem A Woman Goes, and a bittersweet reflection on being alone in I Sleep With Myself.

We also hear a lost poem from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. It's one of a small number of previously unpublished poems recently discovered among his papers and published in the collection Then Come Back.

Finally, one of the brightest stars in Polish literature - a poet, translator and novelist, Jacek Dehnel. His is an eclectic sort of empathy, with poems about the death of a world-famous musician and a lurid museum exhibit. And we hear his Polish translation of a very famous Philip Larkin poem.

Readers: Raghad Chaar and Alejandro de Mesa
Producer: Caroline Hughes
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

01Close Encounters20170806

Poetry series in which poet Helen Mort explores exciting voices from around the world.

The fourth edition of this new globe-trotting poetry series. Poet Helen Mort explores exciting voices from around the world. This week, she hears poems in Somali, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese and Polish - and in translation.

Reflecting on the phrase "Close Encounters", she explores how the very stuff of being human - relationships, identity, empathy - play a part in the work of these four distinct poets.

Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf is fast emerging as one of the most outstanding Somali-language poets writing today. Her bold and striking poems are translated by British poet Clare Pollard. They join Helen to talk about the place of poetry in Somali culture and their translation partnership, which came about through the Poetry Translation Centre. With poems from her collection The Sea Migrations.

Helen then travels to Paris to meet the Syrian poet Maram al-Masri and hear poems from her collection Barefoot Souls, which imagines the lives of women who have experienced domestic violence, and from Liberty Walks Naked, al-Masri's response to recent events in Syria.

There's deadpan humour from Angelica Freitas, a brilliantly wry voice from Brazil. She takes a novel approach to exploring female identity in her poem A Woman Goes, and a bittersweet reflection on being alone in I Sleep With Myself.

We also hear a lost poem from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. It's one of a small number of previously unpublished poems recently discovered among his papers and published in the collection Then Come Back.

Finally, one of the brightest stars in Polish literature - a poet, translator and novelist, Jacek Dehnel. His is an eclectic sort of empathy, with poems about the death of a world-famous musician and a lurid museum exhibit. And we hear his Polish translation of a very famous Philip Larkin poem.

Readers: Raghad Chaar and Alejandro de Mesa
Producer: Caroline Hughes
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

01Close Encounters20170812
01Close Encounters20170812
01The Observing Eye20170723
01The Observing Eye20170723

Helen Mort introduces poetry that makes the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

The second edition of a new globe-trotting poetry series. Poet Helen Mort explores exciting voices from around the world. This week, she hears poems in Persian, Spanish, German and Chinese - and in translation - all inspired by the everyday objects and people around them. She considers how through the observing eye of poetry, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Tea bags, mushrooms and mosquitoes have all inspired German poet Jan Wagner. His poems give surprising perspectives on the most commonplace objects - they are witty, compassionate and novel. Wagner reads from his collection Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees, and talks about the process of translation between German and English.

Nicknamed the Poet of Objects in his native Iran, Iraj Ziayi writes about ordinary household items - chairs, slippers - with heightened intensity. In his poem Six Green Polish Chairs, a collection of childhood memories are triggered by the sight of a particular shade of green. Alireza Abiz translates from the Persian.

Helen Mort travels to Oxford to speak to Theophilus Kwek. Kwek is a young poet and translator from Singapore, whose version of Moving House by Malayan-born poet Wong Yoon Wah, recently won second place in the Stephen Spender prize for poetry in translation. Moving House explores the ordinary details of a house move, with a fascinating personal and political subtext.

Finally, there's poetry by Oscar Cruz, direct from the streets of Santiago de Cuba. Speaking to Cruz's translator Serafina Vick, Helen Mort learns about his mission to bring the everyday life and language of his city - in all its frank reality - into his poems. Muy caliente!

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

01The Observing Eye20170729
01The Observing Eye20170729

Helen Mort introduces poetry that makes the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

The second edition of a new globe-trotting poetry series. Poet Helen Mort explores exciting voices from around the world. This week, she hears poems in Persian, Spanish, German and Chinese - and in translation - all inspired by the everyday objects and people around them. She considers how through the observing eye of poetry, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Tea bags, mushrooms and mosquitoes have all inspired German poet Jan Wagner. His poems give surprising perspectives on the most commonplace objects - they are witty, compassionate and novel. Wagner reads from his collection Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees, and talks about the process of translation between German and English.

Nicknamed the Poet of Objects in his native Iran, Iraj Ziayi writes about ordinary household items - chairs, slippers - with heightened intensity. In his poem Six Green Polish Chairs, a collection of childhood memories are triggered by the sight of a particular shade of green. Alireza Abiz translates from the Persian.

Helen Mort travels to Oxford to speak to Theophilus Kwek. Kwek is a young poet and translator from Singapore, whose version of Moving House by Malayan-born poet Wong Yoon Wah, recently won second place in the Stephen Spender prize for poetry in translation. Moving House explores the ordinary details of a house move, with a fascinating personal and political subtext.

Finally, there's poetry by Oscar Cruz, direct from the streets of Santiago de Cuba. Speaking to Cruz's translator Serafina Vick, Helen Mort learns about his mission to bring the everyday life and language of his city - in all its frank reality - into his poems. Muy caliente!

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

01Tracks Of Time20170730
01Tracks Of Time20170730

Globe-trotting poetry series. Poet Helen Mort explores voices from around the world.

The third edition of a new globe-trotting poetry series. Poet Helen Mort explores exciting voices from around the world. This week, she hears poems in Macedonian, Old Norse and Russian - and in translation. Reflecting on the phrase 'tracks of time', she discovers how memory and history play a part in the work of these three poets.

Helen travels to Berlin to meet the Macedonian poet Nikola Madzirov. Described as one of most powerful voices in contemporary European poetry, he writes with great lyrical depth, insight and originality. In his collection 'Remnants of Another Age', he reflects on the history of his Balkan homeland and on ideas of shelter and nomadism with a restless, timeless intelligence.

Heading up the North Sea coast to Aberdeen, we hear Scottish poet Ian Crockatt reading his fresh versions of the Old Norse verses of Rognvaldr, Earl of Orkney. The collection, 'Crimsoning the Eagle's Claw', is a treasure trove of vivid snapshots of the life of this twelfth century poet, lover, nobleman and sailor. Like meeting a Viking face-to-face.

Finally, Helen travels to Oxford to meet one of Russia's foremost contemporary poets, Maria Stepanova and her translator, Sasha Dugdale. Stepanova writes formally inventive and thoughtful poetry, teeming with references from her country's cultural memory and political history. Through her journalism and editorship of an independent, crowdfunded site, she is also an important liberal voice.

Producer: Caroline Hughes
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

01Tracks Of Time20170805
01Tracks Of Time20170805

Globe-trotting poetry series. Poet Helen Mort explores voices from around the world.

The third edition of a new globe-trotting poetry series. Poet Helen Mort explores exciting voices from around the world. This week, she hears poems in Macedonian, Old Norse and Russian - and in translation. Reflecting on the phrase 'tracks of time', she discovers how memory and history play a part in the work of these three poets.

Helen travels to Berlin to meet the Macedonian poet Nikola Madzirov. Described as one of most powerful voices in contemporary European poetry, he writes with great lyrical depth, insight and originality. In his collection 'Remnants of Another Age', he reflects on the history of his Balkan homeland and on ideas of shelter and nomadism with a restless, timeless intelligence.

Heading up the North Sea coast to Aberdeen, we hear Scottish poet Ian Crockatt reading his fresh versions of the Old Norse verses of Rognvaldr, Earl of Orkney. The collection, 'Crimsoning the Eagle's Claw', is a treasure trove of vivid snapshots of the life of this twelfth century poet, lover, nobleman and sailor. Like meeting a Viking face-to-face.

Finally, Helen travels to Oxford to meet one of Russia's foremost contemporary poets, Maria Stepanova and her translator, Sasha Dugdale. Stepanova writes formally inventive and thoughtful poetry, teeming with references from her country's cultural memory and political history. Through her journalism and editorship of an independent, crowdfunded site, she is also an important liberal voice.

Producer: Caroline Hughes
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.