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Basic Polish: A Grammar and Workbook (Grammar Workbooks) 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415224376
ISBN-10: 0415224373
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'This useful book displays the same methodical, systematic, and jargon-free approach to Polish grammar as the author's earlier Polish: An Essential Grammar ... Basic Polish will be a welcome addition to the Polish language market, in which Routledge is gradually establishing itself as a major player.' - John Michael Bates

About the Author

Dana Bialec teaches at Clarendon College, Nottingham, UK. He is the author of Polish: An Essential Grammar, also part of the Routledge Grammars. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Grammar Workbooks
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (December 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415224373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415224376
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,290,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. J. Christian on November 13, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although this book claims to "assume no previous knowledge of Polish," this is quite incorrect. The book begins logically with noun genders and adjectives, but it assumes you already have learned a decent level of Polish vocab, or else you'll be searching (as I was) for nearly every word in the dictionary, instead of concentrating on the grammar rule at hand. To illustrate my point, exercise 3 of unit 2 asks for the following phrases to be translated into Polish: "1. big hats, 2. Polish palaces, 3. colourful umbrellas, 4. comfortable hotels, 5. pretty countries, etc." Up to this point however, very few of these words are translated into Polish, and those few that were, only in passing. This might be permissable in a vocab-builder (provided it asks for translations of words it's already defined for you earlier), but in what is supposed to be a grammar book, it distracts and detracts greatly from my learning the grammar lesson, as I waste so much time finding the words. Had the book provided the translations (or even just the gender!), but un-declinated, etc., next to each entry, it would've helped greatly--the student would see the Polish words next to their English equivalents, while allowing him to stay focused on the grammar lesson at hand.

This book would be much better if it allowed the student to focus more on the grammar. Right from the beginning, it foists large numbers of Polish words on the student without defining them, which detracts from the learning of the grammar rules. A good grammar workbook should actually have very little vocabulary (or should provide a translation and gender for every new word right on the same page the first time it's mentioned), allowing the student to focus on the grammar rules and not definitions.
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Format: Paperback
This book is the first I have encountered to delineate Polish grammar in any systematic fashion. It covers all parts of speech and their various nuances in exhaustive depth. However, do not expect to learn the language solely from this book. It is intended to grammatical supplement to a more comprehensive course, such as Berlitz or Pimsleur.

The only complaint I have against this work is its errors. They aren't plentiful enough for me to recommend a substitute (nor is there one!), but be on the lookout for inconsistencies. One example may be found at the top of page 21, where we are told that the default plural ending is -i, or -y following the letters g and k. In fact, it is the opposite, with -i proceeding those two exceptions. There are a handful of others, so read with skepticism.
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I agree very much with the previous poster's complaints about vocabulary and clearity. You have to memorize a good 300 words to get through all of the books exercises comfortably even though vocabulary is not its goal. Also, the choice of vocabulary tends to side with the obscure. The author is attempting to explain *all* the rules including the regular but not very high frequency exceptions. She includes a handful of examples for each pattern, easily out numbering the common case. This also takes a lot away from clearity, making the language seem much more complicated than it actually is. A better introduction would have focused on drilling all the high frequency rules and simply introducing the exceptions.

All of that said, this book was exactly what I wanted. I have been studying Russian for a number of years with only a little experience with Polish, and this book was better for me than any beginner's language textbook. I just wanted to quickly memorize the rules, and start experimenting with the language. As a person who is familiar with highly inflected languages (and Russian in particular which has very similar grammar), I really actually wanted all of the rules and not just the common case.

Its a great book, but if you are starting from nothing, it cannot be your only text. This is a much better book for the slightly more advanced Polish learner.
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Format: Paperback
I've been studying Polish on my own for about 4 years now. Dana Bielec's books, especially "Basic Polish" and "An Essential Grammar", have become an indispensable part of my study arsenal.

They are the perfect reference for the average beginner wanting to dissect grammatical concepts and look over well-summarized rules as they study and practice from more traditional introductory textbooks. It's not however the perfect traditional introductory textbook for the average beginner. For those wanting a traditional introductory Polish textbook, I've found the "Hurra!! Po Polsku" series to be quite palatable and paced slow enough.

"Basic Polish", alternatively, is absolutely perfect for those linguistic fiends who best understand their own language or foreign languages through grammar. This is definitely me. In order for me to start learning a language (unless I'm fully immersed and need no text at all) I must have a macro-perspective on important grammatical topics. Without this, I really struggle, getting lost in minutiae, unable to figure out where little pieces learned here and there fit into the larger scheme of things. But be aware if you're not accustomed to this type of approach to language study that this as your only study tool will be frustrating.

Other references that I've found quite fun and useful are various texts put out by Universitas, Krakow (the series is titled Jezyk Polski dla Cudzoziemcow). While their coursebooks are utterly useless, I enjoy their reference books which tackle carefully one grammatical topic per book. I've had to work hard to acquire a number of these from Polish book retailers, as they've told me that various books have gone out of print(?).

Anyway, if you can't get the Universitas books or don't even want to tackle topics so microscopically and prefer a nice wide-ranging overview in one single book, Dana Bielec's books are perfect!
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