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Beginner's Finnish (Hippocrene Beginner's)(w/2 CD's) Paperback – December 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0781812283 ISBN-10: 0781812283 Edition: Pap/Com Bl

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Beginner's Finnish (Hippocrene Beginner's)(w/2 CD's) + Finnish Dictionary & Phrasebook: Finnish-English/English-Finnish (Hippocrene Dictionary & Phrasebooks) + Finnish: An Essential Grammar (Routledge Essential Grammars)
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Product Details

  • Series: Hippocrene Beginner's
  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Hippocrene Books; Pap/Com Bl edition (December 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0781812283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0781812283
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Agi Risko has taught Finnish, Hungarian, Swedish, and German in the United States for more than 20 years. She has a degree in Finno-Ugric studies from Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, and holds a Ph.D. in Germanic languages and literature from Ohio State University, where she currently teaches Hungarian.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
Overall, I highly recommend this book and a dictionary!
If you don't speak Finnish and want to, pick this book up first.
Oliver Bay
This seems like a very well thought-out and organized book.
Andrew T

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kiiks on May 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before I purchased this book, I had been using Teach Yourself Finnish. But that book left me frustrated and feeling as if I was getting nowhere toward truly understanding how Finnish works. While Finnish language materials are not common in the US, I thought that surely there must be something else out there. I saw that this book included audio CDs, so I decided to give it a try. What a great decision I had made!

First of all, if you're going to learn Finnish, I highly advise that if you don't have access to a native speaker who can help you, that you make sure to get a textbook with an audio CD to help you with pronunciation, as well as to help you understand Finnish spoken at a faster speed than the speed with which you will be able to speak. This will help ease the transition for when you go to Finland. Upon first hearing the audio CDs, I was somewhat startled by the speakers. They initially sounded a bit harsh/serious, but after seeing what this book has to offer, I do not mind if the speakers sound harsh.

Each chapter in this book begins with a dialogue in Finnish (with a corresponding audio track), with the English translation on the opposite page. The audio CDs also have a second track for each dialogue in which the speakers pause after every word or two to give the student time to repeat the phrase. Next, vocabulary words from the dialogue are listed in the book (again, with a corresponding audio track) along with their English translations, as well as the same for useful phrases. Then there is a grammar section. This is the truly amazing part of the book, to me. The author does a -fantastic- job of explaining grammar rules and nuances of the Finnish language. Concepts are explained in simple terms, and in a format that makes sense.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
Agi Risko's BEGINNER'S FINNISH is one of the lesser-known contemporary textbooks for Finnish. The author presents some of the basic features of the language in twelve chapters, with the dialogues following a group of American students on summer holiday in Finland. I disagree greatly with the method Risko uses to present these dialogues, Finnish on one side and a facing-page translation into English. A complete translation of all the Finnish will act only as a crutch for the student. The book is typeset in Hippocrene's typical space-inefficient style and nearly 300 pages are needed for a work of fairly meagre content. Grammatical concepts are presented in the dry style of reference grammars instead of the vivid presentation necessary for teach-yourself books.

I suppose this could be useful if you just want a taste of Finnish. However, anyone looking to start towards proficiency in the language would best acquire a combination of other books. Probably the best basic textbook for autodidacts is Terttu Leney's Teach Yoruself Finnish. Leena Silfverberg's SUOMEN KIELEN ALKEISOPPIKIRJA and SUOMEN KIELEN JATKO-OPPIKIRJA (both published by Finn Lectura) contain further exercises that one needs to work through before leaving the beginner level. Finally, the DVD course SUPISUOMEA is an essential source of audio with fast dialogues.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Bay on August 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first reaction I had to this book was excitement at being able to understand a dialogue right off the bat. Some language textbooks take a long time to build up to a real text (starting instead with conversations such as: "Hi, how are you?" "I'm well. You?" "I'm well. Goodbye." "Goodbye."). This process can be tedious, and one feels for a long time as if they really know nothing. After the first lesson of Beginner's Finnish, though, you'll be able to read a two-and-a-half page dialogue and make sense of all the grammar. For me, this was a big confidence booster, and I got that "I can read Finnish!" feeling right away.

The format is solid and effective: a dialogue accompanied by a vocabulary list, a list of common expressions, and an explanation of new grammar points used. The grammar explanations are essential to making sense of Finnish, whose plentiful suffixes and consonant gradation make certain words almost unrecognizable ("to read" is "lukea" but "we read" is "me luemme"). There are also three pages of exercises in each lesson, which are doable but sometimes challenge you to bring together the grammar minutiae you've accumulated. At the end of the book is a Finnish-English and English-Finnish glossary for all words used in the dialogues, as well as two essential appendices. In my opinion, an auditory component is vital in the beginning stages of learning a language, so make sure to get a copy with the two audio CDs.

As might be expected, the dialogues use a few grammar points before they are explained (you can't explain the whole grammar at once), so you might find yourself wondering why there's an extra "a" on "ravintolaa" or what "siitä" means. Patience is key with this language. Most of these things will be explained in later lessons.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ross Kravitz on March 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
The book is divided into 12 lessons centered around a dialogue. I have worked through three quarters of the book. I don't appreciate the fact that grammatical constructs are used in the dialogues and then not discussed until much later in the book. I also don't like how some constructions are just ignored ( i.e words like mennään, the author says theyre beyond the scope of the text, and same for plural constructions). I think pedagogically, words shouldnot be introduced based on just the nominative form, which often is not immediately connected to its inflectional stem. Learning verbs should also be centered around a different word form too. The choice of vocab in each section inclides repeated words and others which are somewhat obscure.
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