The Basque Language: A Practical Introduction Paperback – 30 Oct 2012
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"The book deserves a very favourable opinion: it is excellent in its didactic effort, and will be a very valuable source for those learning or teaching Basque." -- "Canadian Journal of Linguistics"
""The Basque Language: A Practical Introduction" is a classic which will be used for many years. King is to be congratulated on a difficult endeavor which has been so well done." -- "Notes on Linguistics"
"The Basque Language: A Practical Introduction" is a classic which will be used for many years. King is to be congratulated on a difficult endeavor which has been so well done. -- "Notes on Linguistics""
The book deserves a very favourable opinion: it is excellent in its didactic effort, and will be a very valuable source for those learning or teaching Basque. -- "Canadian Journal of Linguistics""
About the Author
<strong>Alan R. King</strong> has a PhD in linguistics from the University of London and currently works as a professional translator, with a specialisation in Basque to English.
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Top Customer Reviews
I really don't like Colloquial much (I've attempted three of their courses in the past) and so I settled for this. Besides, I figured, even if it's no better as a course book, there's more material in there that I can pull out and teach myself. And that's precisely what I'm doing now, because as a course book, frankly, it stinks.
The grammar is taught in a rather disjointed, discrete way -- everything remains in very short phrases a considerable way into the book -- and a hell of a lot of vocabulary is thrown in at once (particularly irritating is that the word "American" plays a big part and you're asked to say "I am American", which I'm not!)
The exercises are very mechanical: having been presented with a small table of parts of a sentence, you are asked to "make as many sentences as you can", which just smacks of laziness on the course author's part. He also has you converting negative and positive, singular and plural and the like.
The notes in English are very sparse, and you suddenly find yourself being able to do the tasks without knowing -- or caring -- what it means. Suddenly technical grammatical terms are introduced without any explanation, and given the nature of Basque grammar, many of these terms are unfamiliar even to many students of other languages. These terms are used instead of any proper explanation, so the language slips further and further into a pit of unfathomable mechanical rules.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Basque is a language unlike any other on earth- it is the only surviving indigenous European language, and its vocabulary and grammar have almost no connection with any other known language. Its complexity is lengendary among linguists- nouns can take twelve different cases, and the case system is just the pregame show. The real fun in Basque begins when you get to the verb and the iccredible variety of different forms it can take- not just the number of different tenses, but the variety of different agreements that are possible between subject, object, and indirect object, not to mention the exensive usage of ergative ('experiencer') constructions as well.
However, for those brave enough to take this language on, this author has provided one of the best prepared and most extensive introductory courses that can be found for any language. Each lesson begins with illustrative conversations, which are so well designed that it is actually possible for the learner to get an inductive feel for the grammatical points that will be illuminated later in the lesson. Both rote drills and translation exercises are plentiful. Later in the book come longer readings, and at the end comes a lengthy and very thorough reference grammar. The author also provides a great deal of interesting information about the culture of the Basque country- one can not only develop a real feel for the language itself but for the people who care so passionately about preserving it for future generations.
Negatives? Well, there isn't any audio, but there is, as other revieweres have noted, 'Colloquial Basque', by the same author- a much less grammatical and more everyday introduction to the language, which does come with CDs. In fact, on Amazon, it's usually possible to buy them together and save.
The book includes a written conversation in almost every chapter, which is followed by new vocabulary. Next comes a number of grammar points with practice (answers to the questions are found in the back of the book). There are also review chapters which allow the student to review the grammar and vocabulary from previous chapters.
Finally, there is a reference section at the back of the book, which contains anything from an elementary reading section to an explanation of the semi-complicated Basque verb system (it also includes a pronunciation guideline, rules for sentence structure, small dictionary for important words used in the book)
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found it helpful for my purposes. It reminded me structurally of Wheelock's Latin. My only complaint would be that I would have liked to have more examples of some of the more complicated grammar points. This, however, is to be expected given that this grammar is only intended as an introduction.
The best feature of The Basque Language: A Practical Introduction is the grammar section at the end of the book. This provides a handy summary of all the grammatical points which appear in the book, and includes a general explanation of their use. The book also includes a selection of readings, with various passages about the Basque Country and related topics (some of them by King himself), excerpts from a play and several novels, and a selection of both traditional and more modern songs.
The units themselves mostly consist of a short dialogue followed by grammatical notes and exercises. Unfortunately the grammar sections and exercises are all mixed in together, and there are no fun headings ("Saying what you mean", "Doing things with words") such as appear in Colloquial Basque. Apart from making the chapters less interesting, this can also make it more difficult to find things in preceding chapters. Explanation of the grammar is also often poor or lacking altogether, although thorough explanation is provided at the back of the book.
Serious students of Basque will find this book to be an invaluable reference. Many people, however, will find Colloquial Basque to be a more practical introduction to the language.