Books for Learning Slovene: Slovene - A Comprehensive Grammar, Peter Herrity

By , 15 Jan 2018, 16:24 PM Lifestyle
Detail of the cover of the second edition Detail of the cover of the second edition JL Flanner

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The foundation of your library. 

UPDATE: Based on reader feedback I should note this isn't a book for a total beginner, as you'll need some idea of sentence structure, spelling and word families before it becomes useful, so please don't buy it on a whim. Instead just take a look at the pages shown below, and if you fall in love then consider buying or borrowing it from your local library. If you haven't got a library card, check out an earlier post.

The first in this series introduces what I think is an extremely valuable book for any Slovene learner, although sadly it only seems to be available in English. Slovene – A Comprehensive Grammar, is published by Routledge and written by Peter Herrity, Professor Emeritus of Slavonic Languages at the University of Nottingham, who obviously knows his subject. However, while such knowledge doesn’t guarantee an attractive or useful book, this volume, now in its second edition (2015), is well planned and clearly laid out, taking you through every aspect of Slovene grammar in a reassuringly solid reference work that’s well-bound and will put up with years of heavy use.

Here’s some photos of the introduction to give you an idea of how much it covers.

PH adjectives.jpg

JL Flanner

PH adverbs.jpg

JL Flanner

But academic credentials, comprehensiveness, sturdy binding and a pleasing design aren’t all that this book has in its favour. For me, a mediocre learner, at best, another great thing about this book, in addition to all the charts and tables, is the liberal use of example sentences to illustrate certain points on nearly all of the almost 500 pages. These would be good on their own, but what really elevates this work, and what unfortunately seems to be missing in some comparable volumes, is the fact that all of these examples are written in Slovene and English, saving many hours of fiddling with a dictionary.

PH sentences.jpg

JL Flanner

And even when dealing with single words or phrases Herrity makes sure to translate them all, making this book a delight to work with.

PH table.jpg

Like most Slovene textbooks this one isn’t cheap, and is currently available for 80.82 EUR on Amazon.de, and for 58.50 STG from Amazon.co.uk, but this still represents excellent value when considering the content. It may also be possible to order it from your local Mladinska knjiga, where I bought mine in Ljubljana last year, and there could be some copies floating around the second-hand market, although why anyone would give up this great work is beyond me.

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The first and second editions, left and right. Screenshot and montage: JL Flanner

There’s a slightly cheaper Kindle edition, and although I do almost all my reading on such a device – the adjustable font size is great for anyone with bad eyes, and I’ve no desire to sniff paper – I’d advise against getting an electronic version, as this book seems best consumed at leisure and with some serendipity, letting the pages fall open and finding something new to learn. Strongly recommended.

All our posts on the Slovene language, including dual texts, more books, videos and general information, can be found here

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