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Book Review: Colloquial Basque by Alan King and Begotxu Olaizola
by Chris Bates
Jan 02, 2005
Authors: Alan R. King and Begotxu Olaizola Elordi
Price: Variable (Book & Two Cassettes)
Map of the Basque Country
Key to Exercises
This is one of two books written by Alan R. King on the Basque language, the other being "Basque: A Practical Introduction", which is a better book (see review). However, the major advantage of "Colloquial Basque" is the fact that it comes with tapes, something that his other book lacks. Since the materials in English on learning Basque are (apart from these two books) very limited, and hearing a language spoken is an essential part of learning it, this pack is a must have for the English speaker learning Basque who doesn't know a Basque speaker.
There is often a story to follow in the "Teach Yourself" or "Colloquial" style language packs, and "Colloquial Basque" is no exception. Much of the book revolves around Elin, a visitor from Wales, and her friend Naroa, a Basque. We follow the two of them are Elin meets Naroa at her work (in an ikastola), and then is shown around the town, visits Naroa's house, goes out with her friends etc. This is not as boring as it sounds, and the book is quite well written, with a section on culture in each chapter, reasonably good (but sometimes short) grammatical explanations, and various exercises (whose solutions are provided). The attempt to give the reader/listener a glimpse of Basque culture extends to having the song Txoria Txori by Mikel Laboa played in full on the tape at the end of Chapter 6, which I felt was a nice touch. Unfortunately the mini-dictionary in the back of the book is a little more limited than perhaps it could have been, so a good dictionary is essential if you don't want to be limited to the words that occur in the dialogues.
There really isn't much more to say. This pack is invaluable to the English learner of Basque simply because it is the only one with tapes that I know of aimed at an English audience, however the dialogue quickly becomes quite fast and you really need to persevere to succeed, despite the well written help available.