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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best introduction to Euskera in English
As a long-standing user of self-instruction textbooks, and a learner of Basque, I have nothing but praise for this excellent contribution to the limited resources offered to the English-speaking Basque learner. It also looks very good, and Hippocrene should be encouraged to present the rest of their series in such a modern guise.
The book is clearly written with an...
Published on 20 Oct 2002 by GreatGrumbledook

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I was studying beginner's Basque with a free online course in Spanish and I decided to buy this book because of the positive reviews here. And I thought it would be easier in English, my native language.

I'm very disappointed so far. The first exercise involves proving that you understand the author's transcription method, which he seems to have written on the...
Published on 18 Dec 2010 by Katherine McGrail


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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best introduction to Euskera in English, 20 Oct 2002
As a long-standing user of self-instruction textbooks, and a learner of Basque, I have nothing but praise for this excellent contribution to the limited resources offered to the English-speaking Basque learner. It also looks very good, and Hippocrene should be encouraged to present the rest of their series in such a modern guise.
The book is clearly written with an impressive coverage for an introductory textbook, and is structured around dialogues, grammar sections, and brief exercises. The marriage of the traditional and the conversational approach is a happy one: all too many textbooks follow one path to the detriment of the other, and the learner is left with either a thorough grammatical knowledge which lets him/her down in everyday situations, or no more than a collection of phrases learnt by heart but not understood. This coursebook provides a thorough and useful grounding in the spoken language which can form the basis for further study of the trickier aspects of the language.
The 12 lessons are brief and do not overwhelm the learner, as in some non-English language courses, like the otherwise excellent Bakarka series by J.A.Mujika (Spanish or French versions available from Elkarlanean). The overall level is quite basic, but gives the learner a good toe-hold for more advanced study. The lessons are preceded by an introduction to Basque life, history and culture, and followed by useful appendices and English-Basque, Basque-English glossaries.
Only one criticism is warranted: the lack of a cassette is a slight drawback. Routledge’s good but far from excellent Colloquial Basque has two, and some volumes of Bakarka have an accompanying tape. Surely this could be easily and cheaply remedied?
On balance this is an excellent (and very reasonably priced) introduction to Basque, superior in many respects to its English language counterparts (The Basque Language, Alan R. King, University of Nevada Press; Colloquial Basque). I sincerely hope it will be followed by further volumes. If you want to learn Basque, go and buy this book!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 18 Dec 2010
This review is from: Beginner's Basque (Hippocrene Beginner's) (Paperback)
I was studying beginner's Basque with a free online course in Spanish and I decided to buy this book because of the positive reviews here. And I thought it would be easier in English, my native language.

I'm very disappointed so far. The first exercise involves proving that you understand the author's transcription method, which he seems to have written on the assumption that everyone speaks English with the same accent that he does. They don't, mate. That's why we have the international phoenetic alphabet. Anyone capable of understanding the grammatical explanations in this book will also be able to pick up the international phoenetic alphabet without much trouble, so it's beyond me why the author didn't use it, especially when none of its more unusual or difficult characters features in the Basque language.

This version of the book comes with two audio CDs. A woman reads a list of Basque words to show you how to pronounce them. She pronounces two of them in her own dialect, in a way that directly contradicts what the author says about the rules of pronunciation. Unlike English, Basque has an official body that decides these things, so there is an official, standard pronunciation of Batua, and it's reasonable to expect that pronunciation in a beginner's guide. So, the CDs aren't much use.

The book begins with a chapter of Wikipedia-type general information about the Basque country, so you can see how the author writes in English when he's not giving grammatical explanations. His overview of the primary and secondary education system is so poorly written (the writing style, not the information he gives) that if I hadn't already been familiar with the topic I really wouldn't have known what he was talking about. He also seems to be confused about when to use "would have" and when to use "had". When someone's grasp of English grammar is that poor, he's probably not the best person to turn to for explanations of unfamiliar grammar.

Basque grammar is complicated to explain to a beginner; there's no getting away from it. Still, I suspect the author of being unnecessarily long-winded and technical at times. The contrast between the pompous, formal language of the explanations and the absurdly incongruous examples had me laughing out loud:
"The following are examples of this process."... "Good day! I am a boy."... "Hi! I am a girl" ..."It is recommended to pay careful attention to the exercises to learn the correct application of the article in Basque."... "Good morning Michael! How old is Johanna?"

This book really needed to be gone over again by a ruthless editor. If you speak Spanish (and maybe even if you don't) you can definitely find the same quality of material for free on the internet.
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT., 13 April 2008
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I totally agree with " Greatgrumbledook's " comprehensive review of this excellent Hippocrene book. I cannot say the same for the companion dictionary / phrase book with is rather thin. ( See my separate review of it ). I would advise instead to get the Gorka Aulestia dictionary if you want to expand from this book and do further readings of Basque literature.
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Beginner's Basque (Hippocrene Beginner's)
Beginner's Basque (Hippocrene Beginner's) by Wim Jansen (Paperback - 14 May 2008)
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