Beginner's Basque (Hippocrene Beginner's Series) Paperback – 1 Apr 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
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?Read more ›
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.Read more ›