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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!, 9 Nov. 2003
By 
JR (the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Icelandic: Grammar, Text and Glossary (Paperback)
I begin with telling this is not a book for beginners. To grab the basics, buy Daisy L. Neijmann's Colloquial Icelandic. After you have completed that, this book will become your ultimate authority on this difficult but beautiful language. The reason for that is, this book assumes you have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of language in general, needed for learning the Icelandic language as well. The Colloquial Icelandic book introduces you this very gradually, whereas it is presented in bigger fragments in Stefán Einarsson's book.
The book is: very good-looking, very thick, very complete. However, is also very old (written around the second world war), so for newer words, you have to look elsewhere. This said, its biggest impediment is also its biggest advantage: everything is presented in a very thorough way (like only could have been done long ago), accompanied by beautiful pictures of various texts and exercises.
The book has been devided in various parts, and not in chapters:
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1) INTRODUCTION (page I - XXVII)
• preface
• preface to the second edition
• how to use the book
• topical index
• bibliography
• abbreviations
• contents
• list of illustrations
The target of the introduction is to learn how to use the book. Everything is well done here, but it's a pity that the bibliography does almost only mention books that are out of print.
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2) GRAMMAR AND TEXTS (page 1 - 293)
• contents of grammar
• grammar
• texts I
• texts II
This is of course the actual heart of the book. The grammar is build up of three parts: pronunciation, inflexions, and syntax. The pronunciation is very profound and every possible sound is mentioned. The inflexions teach the possible forms of ANY wordtype (and is therefore very valuable), while the syntax focusses on WHEN everything is used, and also explains what "cases" are, etc. etc.
The texts come in two varieties, the one kind being texts with references to which grammar to learn, the other kind being texts without that. While the themes of the first are sometimes unsignificant, the latter are really about parts of Icelandic society. And, remember, each text comes with a separate glossary to learn.
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3) GLOSSARY (page 295-502)
The glossary may be the best reason to buy the book. In fact, it's an Icelandic/English dictionairy, with reference to the grammar part for the inflections of the words. Honestly, this is the only book which contains (something close to) a dictionairy, with the full forms of any word. Too bad it isn't English/Icelandic!
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I hope I've helped you with my review, just remember that you won't regret buying this book! =)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone seriously interested in learning Icelandic, 13 Aug. 2012
By 
Christopher A. Smith (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Icelandic: Grammar, Text and Glossary (Paperback)
Icelandic is a highly inflected language. It also has very few loan words, due to a deliberate policy of keeping the language 'pure' (for example, 'computer' is 'tölva'). This makes it perhaps the hardest Germanic language to learn. Having tried to learn via the less formal method of 'Teach Yourself Icelandic', I was only partially satisfied with my efforts and decided that it was necessary to go back to the formal, rote learning method that I had experienced when learning Latin at school in the 'sixties. When all is said and done, you can't speak or understand Icelandic properly unless you learn the case-endings of the various classes of nouns by heart.
This book is therefore nearly ideal for the purpose. I say 'nearly' because it is clearly dated in relation to modern usage. (Whatever the guides at Reyjavík's Cultural Museum may say, the language has changed significantly over a thousand years and is still changing!) As another reviewer has pointed out, this means that some modern words are omitted. The manner of speaking also sounds rather dated, even according to my limited familiarity with colloquial Icelandic, having spent about 10 months in Iceland over the past 2 years. However, the old-fashioned approach and the inclusion of some forms that were archaic even when the book was written give the reader a good feel for the inner logic of the language. They are also invaluable if you want, as I do, to make sense of older texts from the 17th and 18th centuries and move on eventually to Old Norse.
As an example, unlike English, German and Dutch, Icelandic uses a suffixed definite article, so 'a man' is 'mašur' and 'the man' is 'mašurinn'. This suffixed definite article also changes according to case, which can be very confusing, so it helps to know that Icelandic once also had a free definite article (e.g. 'hinn mašur', 'hin kona', 'hiš bjarn'). These free definite articles, with cases, are given in the book, so all you need to do is learn these by rote to know how the suffixed definite articles are formed.
The book includes an initial guide on how to approach it. The best way is to go straight to the Ęfingar (exercises) and work diligently from there. The exercises employ simple texts that are fun to read, together with the necessary vocabulary and grammar notes. There are also translation exercises that stretch the learner's ability much more than the ridiculously easy exercises in 'Teach Yourself Icelandic'. The only lack, as far as I can see, is the absence of a section with model answers so that you can check the accuracy of your translations.
After the first 30 exercises there is a wealth of reading material to practise with, plus an extensive glossary. It is quite amusing to read the section on 'daily life' and reflect on how much this has changed in Iceland over the past 60 years!
All in all, this is the book for anyone who has a serious interest in gaining a thorough and lasting knowledge of the Icelandic language, and is well worth the investment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 2 Jun. 2010
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This review is from: Icelandic: Grammar, Text and Glossary (Paperback)
Complete, with grammar and texts, it's a good way to work more on Icelandic. I also have "Learning Icelandic" I used in class few years ago (with a grammar workbook and an audio CD.) I don't regret this investment.
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Icelandic: Grammar, Text and Glossary
Icelandic: Grammar, Text and Glossary by Stefan Einarsson (Paperback - 31 Dec. 2000)
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