Customer Reviews


12 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good intro, if technical
This new course in Babylonian (the Akkadian dialect spoken in Babylon) is quite an ambitious work. True, it doesn't really tackle the cuneiform script (this is introduced towards the end of the book) but it does cover an awful lot of Babylonian. The author presents both Old Babylonian (OB), the earliest form of the dialect, and Standard Babylonian (SB), the later literary...
Published on 13 Oct 2010 by J. E. S. Leake

versus
1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars sloppy book
This book is badly written. There are some very poor expressions in this book that cause a lot of unnecessary ambiguity. For example, on page 39, 'Sometimes in the singular a consonant in contact with the feminine 't' has become assimilated to it'. There are many of these clumsy expressions. Also, redundant expressions, such as (p. 14) 'Ancient scribes usually wrote a...
Published 12 months ago by Paul Curtis


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good intro, if technical, 13 Oct 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself (Paperback)
This new course in Babylonian (the Akkadian dialect spoken in Babylon) is quite an ambitious work. True, it doesn't really tackle the cuneiform script (this is introduced towards the end of the book) but it does cover an awful lot of Babylonian. The author presents both Old Babylonian (OB), the earliest form of the dialect, and Standard Babylonian (SB), the later literary dialect largely modelled on OB, and does so by means of exercises each of which involves normalizing a cuneiform text (in transcription) and then translating it. The course will give the reader the real ability to approach a Babylonian text and translating it, at least from the published transcriptions. Learning to read cuneiform should be reasonably straightforward as the learner will understand the writing system reasonably well (though he will still have to learn to deal with the additional task of learning to choose between the graphically indistinguishable phonetic alternatives within the writing system).

Small gripes: the author takes a current rather trendy way of teaching entirely from 'authentic materials', so no English-Babylonian exercises. He makes the suggestion that the reader can if he wishes use the key to translate from English to Babylonian, but the key includes the English translation accompanied by the normalized Babylonian text that the student is trying to translate to. (No English-Babylonian vocabulary either, no doubt because of the lack of exercises, something that would have been a help.) So it will appeal less to 'hobby linguists' who like to produce ancient languages, and to those of us who believe that composition in a language is the best tool for deepening ones knowledge of a language.

No chapter vocabularies: the author says that the reader 'can choose which words he wants to learn'. Great; but the reader doesn't know which are the most common, and it is here that some help might have been useful. It's a bit frustrating, too, that one can never do an exercise and expect to be able to read it: almost every exercise involves new vocab.

The web-site isn't running yet. When it is, I do hope that the author or Routledge will post the Babylonian-English glossary (and the list of Sumerograms) that he suggests we photocopy from the book as PDFs on the website as it would be easier (and clearer) for most people to print rather than to photocopy. And, perhaps, the English answers in a format we can use for Babylonian composition exercises.

Finally, while the author has tried to explain technical vocabulary, he still slips in unexplained technical terms that will challenge many readers. A technical glossary might have been a help.

I look forward to finishing the book in due course. It's been fun so far!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction for self-learners, 15 Dec 2010
This review is from: Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself (Paperback)
I have been struggling with Caplice's 'Intoduction to Akkadian' which I have found to be extremely difficult to work with, mainly because the information in his book is presented in such a 'condensed' manner; rather like a lesson plan or 'crib' sheet for a teacher who has most of the knowledge in his head, although I concede that it would probably serve as a fine set of notes to accompany one of his courses. But it is not for the teach yourself beginner such as myself.
Martin Worthington's book however is targeted at exactly my type of learner and, so far, I have found it to be an easy to use introduction to Babylonian (a 'dialect' of Akkadian).
Some might find the limited content concerning cuneiform writing a disappointment but, I think he has taken the right approach for a beginner: get the basics of the language established using transliterated and normalised texts before delving into the world of cuneiform script itself.
I am very happy with this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last a wonderful textbook, practical, lucid and intelligent, 27 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself (Paperback)
For two decades and more I had wanted to learn Akkadian, the umbrella-term for Babylonian and Assyrian. I tried three books:

- David Marcus 'A Manual of Akkadian' - this uses a kind of direct method, teaching grammatical points as they arise, so that the student ends up with a pointillistic impression of the grammar, with no clear overview. The explanation of the verbal system is desperately unhelpful. You are forced to learn the cuneiform script, which involves memorising hundreds of signs, many of them polyvalent. I found the book unusable.

- Richard Caplice 'Introduction to Akkadian' - thorough, but so compressed as to be horribly indigestible. Here too you are forced to learn the cuneiform script. This book too, whilst maybe useful as a reference grammar, is unusable as a textbook for learning the language.

- John Huehnergard 'Grammar of Akkadian' - a very very thorough introduction to the language, introducing new grammatical points bit by bit, and introducing the cuneiform script gradually too. Very good as a reference tool, but as a practical course in Akkadian, I find it overwhelming, and the grammatical explanations are written in a curiously convoluted, hard-to-understand way, with too much advanced detail introduced too soon, and chunks of the same topic distributed widely over several disparate chapters.

And now here comes Martin Worthington with 'Teach Yourself Complete Babylonian'. At last we have an intelligent, lucid, practical textbook. The language is taught entirely in transliteration, so that you can learn it thoroughly without having to do battle with the cuneiform script. It is much better to learn the language in this way, and optionally add knowledge of cuneiform later, because deciphering it is far easier when you know well what lies 'behind' it. Dr Worthington includes a chapter introducing the script towards the end of the book, with some worked out examples.

Grammatical points are introduced in a rational, sensible, easy-to-understand way, there are plenty of normalisation+reading exercises with often highly amusing practice sentences, all of them taken from real Babylonian sources, and including such gems as 'Buy donkeys!','I spent the night in my dung, like an ox', 'He must not pester the palace', 'I'm the one with the nanny-goat'.

Dr Worthington has a light touch and sprinkles the book with delightful nuggets of information in 'Did you know?' boxes.

If you work through this wonderful book you will quickly and easily acquire a really excellent working knowledge of Babylonian from every era of its development. A short chapter towards the end of the book includes the main features of Assyrian in so far as it diverges from Babylonian, so that you will be able to read both dialects of Akkadian.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly, and if I could give it six stars, or seven stars, I would do so without hesitation. I have spent three extremely happy months working through it in detail, and have fulfilled an ambition I had harboured for many years: to acquire a good, working knowledge of Akkadian, and - a lovely bonus - I've had a lot of fun on the way, all thanks to Dr Worthington.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid introduction to Akkadian., 29 July 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself (Paperback)
I will say, quite simply, that this is a very good book and after trying other introductions to Akkadian, I would recommend this one above the others. In terms of background, I am not a linguist and I have never seriously learned a foreign language before and I am now working my way through Andrew George's "The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts", so I can testify that with no previous linguistic background this work can get you to the point where you can read Babylonian literature.

There are three major strengths to this book in my opinion:

1. The explanations are not terse, as is common in most introductory books, and most points of grammar receive a decent discussion. I realise that those who have learned other inflected languages before might find the explanation of what cases are to be redundant, but I imagine you will be glad for this level of exposition when you reach the verbal system, which is the most difficult component of the language.
More importantly there is quite often an attempt to convey the "sense" of some grammatical construction, something I found wanting in other books, i.e. why would somebody choose this form instead of that one, the shade of meaning offered by choosing this construction over another, e.t.c. Other textbooks left me with the feeling that I was learning how to be a machine for converting Babylonian into English, rather than being able to fluidly read the language.

2. You learn three stages of the language simultaneously: Old, Middle, Standard (A literary language modelled after the two earlier stages, the spoken language at the time was Neo-Babylonian). The method by which this is done is essentially by introducing the grammar in the Old Babylonian context and "generating" Middle and Standard by the application of simple rules. This gives you access to two thousand years of literature.
It should also be said that although the text teaches you the Babylonian dialect, enough details are provided for Akkadian's other major dialect (Assyrian) that it shouldn't pose much difficulties.
(The one stage of the language not in this book is Old Akkadian, the language of Sargon of Akkad's time)

3. It doesn't bother with cuneiform. I'm only learning cuneiform now, but Babylonian, from my amateur viewpoint, is a reasonably difficult language with a terrible writing system (not surprising as it was invented for another language). A lot of other textbooks really slow down the rate of progress with the learning of cuneiform signs. I personally prefer that I can now read the language to some degree when transliterated, as opposed to still being on the nominal system with hundreds of cuneiform signs memorised. I realise this might be an deficiency when viewed as textbook for graduate students who intend to be capable of reading directly from clay tablets. However as an amateur, I just wanted to be able to read the literature and I'm glad I didn't have to learn the cuneiform (with all their temporal and geographic variation) first to do so.
However, you are left in a good position to move on to learning cuneiform, since you learn their transliterated form.

A well deserved five stars in my opinion. There might be better books for those already proficient in Semitic or Afro-Asiatic languages already, but for the complete beginner this will be very hard to beat.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!, 14 Dec 2011
This review is from: Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself (Paperback)
Martin Worthington's Teach Yourself Complete Babylonian is a very unusual book: it introduces you to Babylonian, the oldest Semitic language. This was spoken during the three millennia before Christ, and today it survives on clay tablets, in cuneiform script.

Introductions to Babylonian tend to be conceived for a very specialised audience, and to be couched in highly technical terms. Worthington's Complete Babylonian sparkles with enthusiasm, and is suitable both for independent learners and the classroom.

It teaches different stages of the language (chiefly "Old" and "Standard" Babylonian), enabling you to read literary works from different periods, in the original language.

The exposition can be humourous. For instance, the author compares the widespread attitude to grammatical tables as something to be skipped over with people's attitudes to songs in the Lord of the Rings.

The book has a solid academic basis, and reading references are provided for those who want to take things further. Grammar is presented in detail, but grammatical *terminology* is kept to a minimum, and the book should be comprehensible to people who have not studied a foreign language before.

All the example sentences and exercises are taken from real sources, and references to these sources are provided for the benefit of anyone who wants to look them up in a library.

The book does not teach you the cuneiform script (though worked examples are included): it equips you to read Babylonian in modern editions, where scholars have "transliterated" it into the Roman alphabet.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 21 Dec 2010
This review is from: Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself (Paperback)
This is an excellent beginner's guide to Akkadian. Of course, like any autodidact knows, teaching yourself a language requires motivation and commitment. This book gives you the means of learning all of the basics for the language. It especially makes contractions and morphemes easier to learn and look out for.

Grammar is neatly arranged and clearly organized. There is no unnecessary jargon (he does away with, but makes a note of, terms like aspect, anaphora or mood), and as you move through the book you become more and more excited about learning this language.

While it does not include any kind of introduction to learning the cuneiform script, this will be easier to tackle once you've got the grammar under your belt. It will certainly make you more confident and likely to succeed in learning sign lists later on, if that is what you wish to do. Additionally, you will be able to translate Hammurabi's Code, for example, from the transcription. This is an excellent mood booster, seeing this ancient language unravel in front of your eyes.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative and fun, if challenging book, 8 Aug 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself (Paperback)
Okay, so I am only on chapter 8 but this is a fascinating book. At first I thought it would be silly to look at Bablyonian, then I found myself intrigued by its grammar and structure. This is a very good introduction that I feel can be relied on to provide a basic understanding of the language that if you are interested you can build on with the nuances of the information on grammar revealing themselves as you work on it more.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing Babylon to Life, 30 Dec 2013
This review is from: Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself (Paperback)
A very thorough, well-structured book, with most interesting little snippets of information here and there, for example p.69 on medical prescriptions - only stomach-turning if you don't read it properly!

Because of the peculiar nature of cuneiform, which requires a thorough knowledge of Babylonian before one can attempt to read it, as there are several alternative readings for many characters, I believe the author is justified in not seeking to teach the script. There is an excellent, free online course for teaching cuneiform which I find wonderfully compatible with this book:
[...]
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very clear introduction, 23 Dec 2010
By 
S. Nicholson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself (Paperback)
As a victim of the reprints from the 19th century it was nice to get a nice clear modern approach.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for all those interested in Babylonion., 22 April 2013
By 
L. I. James "Night Puppett" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself (Paperback)
A good book for all those interested in Babylonion. Well written and easy to follow. I would recommend this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself
Complete Babylonian: Teach Yourself by Martin Worthington (Paperback - 27 Aug 2010)
£23.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews