12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The only one around!,
This review is from: Ukrainian (Lonely Planet Phrasebook) (Mass Market Paperback)
The new generation of Lonely Planet phrase books published over the last few years are truly excellent. The first one I had was on Latin American Spanish; I thought then that it was the best phrase book I'd ever used. The grammar section especially is more than just cursory and in fact provides as much as you'd probably need to know to learn the language properly.
So I was delighted to discover that the only Ukrainian phrase book on Amazon (and so presumably the market) is a new LP guide. And it seems to be equally good. It has sections on things I'm interested in (hiking, environment, culture, photography) instead of the interminable lists of consumer goods produced by Berlitz, which seems to think all tourists do is shop for souvenirs.
It also has those interesting and vital boxes adding cultural background to words and the language in general. And the explanation of perfective and imperfective verbs (common to other Slavic languages) has the best clarity/concision ratio I've seen. Other phrase books don't even go into these things.
Of course I haven't actually used it yet, so who knows, I may end up telling people in Kyiv that my hovercraft is full of eels.
Some quibbles: the grammar section includes conjugations of key verbs, but inexplicably omits the essential verb "to go". It is introduced later in the book, however. Also, since Ukrainian is written in Cyrillic, it's important to learn this alphabet. But the Ukrainian words and phrases are always introduced with their Latin alphabet transliteration first, before the Cyrillic spelling. This discourages (though only slightly) the reader from getting to know the alphabet by figuring out the pronunciation of the Cyrillic first and then checking with the transliteration. Lastly, in the acknowledgements the publisher thanks the cover artist for her "innovate" illustration. I can't for the life of me see what's innovative about it. It's just a pleasant picture. There's no need to exaggerate.
But these are minor points. For producing such an excellent book, and having the courage to do it for what is still an obscure language (in tourist volume terms) it should get five stars.