Colloquial Mongolian: The Complete Course for Beginners
Published by: lmbeharry (Karma: 19.17) on 2 January 2010 | Views: 1097
This text and tape set fills a great need. With it's fast-paced, no-nonsense approach, the learner is immediately introduced to the modified Cyrillic alphabet of the Mongols..for those learners desiring to acquire the language as it is spoken in Mongolia, and who are willing to get into the thick of things and learn the rules of the language by generalizing from authentic language examples, I know no better course. –Mongolian Studies
This text and tape set fills a great need. With its fast-paced, no-nonsense approach, the learner is immediately introduced to the modified Cyrillic alphabet of the Mongols..for those learners desiring to acquire the language as it is spoken in Mongolia, and who are willing to get into the thick of things and learn the rules of the language by generalizing from authentic language examples, I know no better course. –Mongolian Studies
This paperback in the Colloquial Language Learning Series is available individually or as part of a pack. For more information, please refer to the cassette pack listing for this language.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful:
4.0 out of 5 starsdemanding and remarkably informative, February 14, 2005
This is a highly commendable effort, especially given its status as just about the only readily available Mongolian textbook out there. If you're curious about what's going on in this enormously fascinating yet unfortunately neglected language, it probably wouldn't hurt to know that it's going to take a lot of determination and far more than a mild interest in Mongolian to get much of anything from this extremely demanding and surprisingly thorough text.
While Colloquial Mongolian is based around a ton of pretty practical dialogues, the text may come off as being heavily focused on grammar, especially early on. This is probably a necessary evil as Mongolian grammar isn't the kind of thing that's just going to make sense after glancing at a couple of passages, but still a lot of people are going to be turned off by being expected to puzzle through sections on `iterative verbal nouns' and `imperfective converbs' before you learn how to say `goodbye.' Probably the best bet is to simply ignore the terminology and just concentrate on the examples given. Point is there's no real need to get hung up on some of these explanations and a good move might be to remind yourself that Mongolians don't care when their suffixes are reflexive, in the same way that anyone able to read these reviews probably knows the difference between the words I, me, we and us without necessarily being aware of the `correct' terms for their cases or person. Like most of the offerings from the colloquial series, this book is content with fabricating conversations then tacking on vocabulary lists, leaving the responsibility for reviewing all this information up to the reader, who has to look elsewhere for reinforcement. Since you're gonna need all the help you can get, the grammar sections are good practice even if sometimes the Mongolian may be easier to understand than the English, but hey, that's kinda a good thing.
The dialogues are situational and begin with fun little idioms. They cover basic greetings, shopping, hotels, ordering food and so on, then move quickly into travel itineraries and visits to herdsmen, where we get hefty doses of cultural and historical information. The good news is that translations are provided for just about every sentence in the book so when you find yourself frustrated by the pacing (we're on to modernized excerpts from the Secret History of the Mongols by chapter 10), or just need a break, sitting back with the English versions of the dialogues makes for some very interesting reading.
As other reviewers have noted the description of Mongolian pronunciation here leaves a lot to be desired, but you're not going to have to work through too many conversations before you realize that coughing up a satisfactorily complete rundown of Cyrillic as forced upon just about the least Slavic language imaginable would be tall order, and it's probably best to just work at it the hard way while trying to juggle all the exceptions and fleeting or hidden letters as they come. With such a user-unfriendly alphabet the tapes are absolutely imperative, and they include all the dialogues (about 4 a chapter), but, unaccountably, none of the vocabulary lists. It's a glaring and unfortunate omission because recording the new words would really help with memorization and with familiarizing yourself with the script, plus there's enough extraneous English banter on the tapes that could have been cut out to make more room. Also it should be noted that readers interested in the older vertical script will be disappointed, as the book only provides a standard letter chart and two versions of the same uniquely confusing paragraph, which most likely won't be enough to lead to any kind of literacy.
While not really a criticism, the biggest thing working against this book is that it's probably a little too ambitious. The text is super dense and gives you more than you would need for a visit to Mongolia, and yet isn't quite accessible enough to be 100% satisfactory as a self-study aid. This would, though, be a great textbook for class use if you're lucky enough to be in that position. It's still an impressive work and as packed with information, linguistic and otherwise, as these things get.
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