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Beginner's Dari (Persian) Paperback – Dec 12 2006


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Amazon.com: 15 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
It should never have left the publisher Feb. 10 2005
By Language learner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
At the moment, there is a real shortage of Dari courses in English. This is the only Dari course on the market and it's a complete failure.

Dari has eight vowels. In the introduction, the author describes the six vowels she is going to use. When you start the book, you'll find that she uses no less than eleven vowels, in a very random way. To take but two examples. The long i-sound of English "been" or "leaf" is not mentioned at all in the introduction. In the course, this sounds is sometimes spelled as -`i- and sometimes as -ee-. There is no difference between these, in some lessons the author uses one, in another she uses another. The beginner who does not know Dari will probably assume that there is a difference between -`i- and -ee-, though in fact there is none. The same goes for another sounds, sometimes spelled -`u- and sometimes -oo-.

There exist a more or less agreed upon system of transcribing Persian words into the Latin alphabet (Dari is a form of Persian) which has been used both in older Dari courses and in courses on other forms of Perisan. For a beginner, it would have been easiest if the author had chosen this transcription model, since it is very simple, logic and completely accurate. The fact that another transcription was employed would not be much of a problem if it was only explained and if it was consistent throughout the course instead of changing from one lesson to the next.

The transcriptions are the main problem, if they were in order I would have given the book three stars. The lessons are easy to follow, although not very far-reaching. The course is far behind such courses excellent Persian courses as Thackston's Introduction to Persian and Baizoyev's A Beginner's Guide to Tajiki. It's also far from Colloquial Persian, but could be a good, short introduction if only the transcriptions would make sense.

Finally, there is one group of people who will find this course useful. Those who already speak another form of Persian, such as Farsi or Tajiki, and want to learn the basics of Dari will not have much of a problem. But for them better books already exist in Persian. Those of us who speak English will have to wait for a revised edition or another Dari course.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Really not worth it Aug. 3 2005
By Jeff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Let me start with the *brief* listing of this book's virtues. If you are already comfortable with written and spoken Persian, this book has some use. Some minor vocabulary differences between Farsi (Iranian Persian) and Dari (Afghan Persian) can be picked up from the thematic word lists (i.e. using the work "tashakkor" in place of "merci" to mean "thanks), and some of the more subtle differences in pronunciation can be garnered from the author's translatirations (i.e. pronouncing the present-stem indicator as "may" instead of "mi," as one would do in Iran). So much for the positives.

This book has some major flaws. Some have already been enumerated in another review on this site, so I won't repeat theam. I want to illustrate the difficulty presented by the author's non-standard transliteration; customary practice dictates that the Persian "aleph" be transcribed as either "â," or "aa." Instead, the author has chosen to transcribe it as "'a". Meanwhile she uses the standard transliteration for the letter "ayn," which is either "'" or "a'." Not only is this confusing, I've spotted two places in the book where she herself mixed the two up.

And that leads me to my next complaint about this book. It would seem that its first draft made the press. I don't see an editor listed, only a note thanking a certain person for "insightful suggestions on the manuscript." There are numerous mistakes, not just in transliteration, but also in her Persian spelling! For a true beginner (recall the title of the book, if you please) this could produce a lot of confusion.

I can't comment on the grammar sections, having skipped them. I agree with the reviewer here who suggested reading Thackston's introductory book-- it is very technical, but *very* precise, and there is really no issue about transliteration, spelling, or translation.

If, like me, you wanted to have a textual reference to familiarize your mind with Dari, this is not what you're looking for. My best suggestion is find a native Dari speaker: many Afghans have been to Iran and could guide you through the differences between the two dialects; otherwise just listen to them speak. But whatever you do, it's not worth your while to buy this book.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
It's not as bad as it's been rated before May 25 2006
By Simran Kaur Lohnes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If one does not approach this book or the language from a too scientific angle this book is not too bad.

Proper pronounciation is anyway only acquired by listening to native speakers, so deliberating on whether or not this or the other stransliteration should be used or whether the one in the book is very consistant hence become secondary.

If one has never heard the sound of the language it becomes very difficult in any case to learn the proper pronounciation from a book.

The negative points of this book first:

The introduction to the alphabet in my view lacks claritiy about the varying form of each letter according to its position in the word.

The size of the book does not allow the letters to be printed big enough for the absolute beginner to decipher details clearly. Big font writing should have been chosen instead.

The grammar section does not seem to pay attention to more colloquial uses of the spoken language. E.g. the sentence: Shumaa az kuja ast? Where are you from? is more realistically written as: Shumaa az kujaast? as in everyday pronounciation things are shortened to such forms.

The book tries to get the alphabet out of the way first before teaching how to speak. This requires some endurance on side of the student. If one would introduce simple sentences straight away in Roman transliteration, certain grammatical structures of Dari would become clear straight away and the book would give the immediate feeling of a little mastery of the language. The alphabet could be introduced a little later into the book

The positive sides:

The book gives a concise overview of basic grammer issues. But one must be slightly talented with languages and familiar with the terms in order to understand the explanations.

Overall I feel the book gives a reasonable introduction to Dari for the outsider and beginner. But one must go the country to speak, read and write properly - as with all "exotic" languages. But that is probably anyway the case if one takes it upon oneself to learn this language ...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
So bad it's funny Nov. 30 2008
By Gwilym - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
At the moment, there is a real shortage of Dari courses in English. This is the only Dari course on the market and it's a complete failure.

Dari has eight vowels. In the introduction, the author describes the six vowels she is going to use. When you start the book, you'll find that she uses no less than eleven vowels, in a very random way. To take but two examples. The long i-sound of English "been" or "leaf" is not mentioned at all in the introduction. In the course, this sounds is sometimes spelled as -`i- and sometimes as -ee-. There is no difference between these, in some lessons the author uses one, in another she uses another. The beginner who does not know Dari will probably assume that there is a difference between -`i- and -ee-, though in fact there is none. The same goes for another sounds, sometimes spelled -`u- and sometimes -oo-.

There exist a more or less agreed upon system of transcribing Persian words into the Latin alphabet (Dari is a form of Persian) which has been used both in older Dari courses and in courses on other forms of Perisan. For a beginner, it would have been easiest if the author had chosen this transcription model, since it is very simple, logic and completely accurate. The fact that another transcription was employed would not be much of a problem if it was only explained and if it was consistent throughout the course instead of changing from one lesson to the next.

The transcriptions are the main problem, if they were in order I would have given the book three stars. The lessons are easy to follow, although not very far-reaching. The course is far behind such courses excellent Persian courses as Thackston's Introduction to Persian and Baizoyev's A Beginner's Guide to Tajiki. It's also far from Colloquial Persian, but could be a good, short introduction if only the transcriptions would make sense.

Finally, there is one group of people who will find this course useful. Those who already speak another form of Persian, such as Farsi or Tajiki, and want to learn the basics of Dari will not have much of a problem. But for them better books already exist in Persian. Those of us who speak English will have to wait for a revised edition or another Dari course.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A great value for the money Aug. 27 2006
By Jess - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a great book to use to learn Kabuli Dari (the version of Persian spoken in Kabul). I have not been able to find a better book in English for learning Dari. Most of the books available are for learning Farsi (the version of Persian spoken in Iran).

I feel that some of the other reviewers have unfairly harsh in their reviews. This is a relatively inexpensive book (currently $12). It does not come with an audio CD. I don't think anyone should expect to be able to learn a language from a book and have perfect pronunciation. If you want to learn the language properly you will need an audio companion for this book or ideally a tutor. The book that the other reviewers offer as a better alternative (Thackston's Introduction to Persian) is for learning Farsi, not Dari.

This book is a great way to try out learning Dari with minimal financial investment.


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