9:25pm – Sunday, April 1 on ABC1
Language is what defines humans from other species, and with our planet home to around 7,000 different languages, words have played a crucial role in our evolution. Renowned wordsmith and host of this series, Stephen Fry, is the perfect guide for this fascinating exploration of language in all its forms: from cutting edge linguistic research to the glories of world literature. The series travels the globe as Fry takes viewers on a journey through the thousands of years since man first mastered speech to the cyber world of today with its HTML, codes and texting. Revealing how language is used, abused and continues to evolve, Fry’s Planet Word looks at whether we are any closer to understanding the most complex activity of the human brain.
Stephen Fry explores ‘The Written Word’. Writing is our greatest invention – making it possible to communicate across space and time. Without writing we would have no history, and very little technology.
Stephen discovers the earliest writing – Cuneiform – at the British Museum and learns how our alphabet came from the Phoenicians. As part of his exploration of the diversity of scripts, Stephen visits 106-yearold Mr Zhou, the inventor of the Chinese phonetic writing system, Pinyin, who relates how literacy increased fourfold after its introduction under Mao.
After the written word, came the printed word and Stephen looks at how this has shaped our relationship with writing, giving us libraries, dictionaries and encyclopaedias.