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Beginner's Irish (Hippocrene Beginner's) [Paperback]

Gabriel Rosenstock

Price: £18.84 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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This popular introduction to the Irish language is now accompanied by an audio CD. Irish, also known as Irish Gaelic or Gaelige, is spoken today by approximately one million people worldwide. It is also the basis of the Irish literary tradition, which is the oldest in Europe after Greek and Latin. This valuable guide, ideal for both individual and classroom use, teaches the basics of Irish grammar and vocabulary in 10 easy-to-follow lessons. The audio CD feature complements the dialogue and grammar sections of the lesson, aiding the reader in understanding the language as spoken.

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Amazon.com: 2.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Start your 1000 mile journey through Irish here 7 July 2004
By John L Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
I cannot parse the intricacies of grammar or usage to nit-pick as some Irish speakers might be able to do--a habit that intimidates those of us less fluent. This book, however, is for the latter category. As a refresher or a starter, this whets your appetite not by plunging you into the usual "Dia dhuit" conversation but a gradual grazing and nibbling about. Instead, the long history of this language--the oldest vernacular outside of Greek and Latin surviving in Europe--a look at male and female names, and the role of the language among tourists and in Ireland allows the reader to get a feel for the contexts within which today's learner will progress.
Rosenstock, of German-Irish parentage by the way, is a noted poet, critic, editor and translator. His wit and enthusiasm make this an ideal starting-point for not only those who wish to learn Irish but those curious about how the language works, what its grammar and vocabulary look like, how simple conversations might go, and what its proverbs and colloquialisms reveal about the native Irish character.
Rather than dive into another twenty-lesson textbook like Michael O Siadhail's admirable but daunting "Learning Irish," my advice is to begin here, see if you like the language, and then go on to the more linguistically oriented tapes and series.
This also accounts for the demotion of a star. Perhaps to appeal to the widest audience, almost no phonetic equivalents for the sounds of the Irish alphabet are given, since Scots, Aussies, ESL readers, and Americans might all say the sounds differently. Too often, Irish texts assume a learner with a standard English (as in the south-of-Britain version) dialect/accent. This avoidance, while admirable on one hand, detracts from a learner's "ear," necessary for anybody needing to get a grasp of the peculiarities of Irish pronunciation. Still, you can read and get a feel for the layout and mentality of the language here and gain a valuable foundation upon which to later sound out...
Adh mór/good luck!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hands-down the worst choice that someone interested in Irish could make 22 Jun 2007
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Gabriel Rosenstock's BEGINNER'S IRISH is yet another example of why Hippocrene is the worst publisher for language-related books around. Published in 2000, BEGINNER'S IRISH promises to give basic language instruction, but it would be a miracle if anyone gained even the simplest competency in conversational Irish from the book.

Teaching of the nuts and bolts of the Irish language doesn't even begin until page 39 of this 145-page book. The first several dozen pages are a rather absent-minded discussion of the Irish people and the phases of its language. Rosenstock's sources for the Celtic languages seem to be quite old and historically superseded. This initial pages contain a listing of Irish baby names and their etymologies, which is just fluff, but it ends with the only useful part of the book: an extensive bibliography of other textbooks and reference materials, and a listing of places in Ireland offering solid language courses.

The actual coverage of the grammar and lexicon of the Irish language consists of 10 short lessons. The lessons generally start with some conversational phrases, followed by Rosenstock's tiresome quips about how those boisterous Irishmen love to drink and carouse. Morphology is usually presented as a dry series of tables, and vocabulary comes in long lists much more than a student could ever be expected to absorb at a time. And you can forget about being able to apply what you learn, for exercises are so meagre they might as well not even be here. Cassettes or CDs are not available, and Irish orthography has such an unusual relationship to actual pronunciation that the student will have no clue of how to accurately sound out what he learns.

BEGINNER'S IRISH is a simply muddled and confused textbook. One wonders if the author has any training in language teaching at all; the little biography on the back cover calls him only an editor, poet, and translator. Would that Hippocrene have commissioned a real teacher of Irish, with plenty of now-competent speakers of Irish among his former students, to write a textbook for them.

If you want to learn Irish, I commend you for showing interest in such a colourful language, and a threatened minority language that could use all the attention it could get. However, pretty much any other textbook could beat Rosenstock's. Seek out, for example, TEACH YOURSELF IRISH.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very useful 26 Sep 2004
By Mike Reeves-McMillan - Published on Amazon.com
The first star is for an interesting background on the Irish language. The second star is for the web addresses included in the book, which took me to some useful sites on Irish language. But that's all it gets - as a book to learn a language from it is not well written, especially for beginners. It doesn't give you all the vocabulary you need and assumes a lot of knowledge of grammatical terminology - nor are the exercises particularly good. I came away with the impression that Irish would be way too hard for me to learn because of its extremely complex grammar, which I'm sure was not the author's intent.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beginner's Irish 5 Dec 2012
By LinguistJunkie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Whether you just want to learn a bit of Irish or delve fully into the language, this is definitely a must-have. With comprehensive grammar and vocabulary, the pack does very well for itself in presenting the language in a clear, concise manner.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ok 29 Nov 2008
By VJF - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Didn't pay much so can't really complain, but the book is pretty worthless without the audio CD, which broke the first time I put it in my player.
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