A review of “Esperanto: Learning and using the international language” by David Richardson

I found out about this book several years ago (and even then it was not new), but I first looked at a copy only a month ago. This review was written for those who wonder whether it is worth recommending, and for those who already know it but maybe interested in the opinion of others.

Language textbooks more or less fall into two camps: grammar-centric (for example, Step by Step in Esperanto by Montagu Butler) and direct-method (eg the books by Stano Marček). This book certainly falls more in the first, but the grammar is presented gently and not too theoretically. Instead, it introduces concepts with useful examples. For example, there is a small section, “formula phrases”: “Openers, adding on, keeping on, questioning, disbelief, agreement, disagreement, changing the subject”. Also useful are several exercise tables, which the reader can use to create sentences from given elements.

The texts in the last part of the book are excellent. Some original poems by Zamenhof are included, as well as excerpts from his letters about the creation of the language, and a brief biography. Among the other is a poem of William Auld (Drunkenness) and excerpts from On Bloody Earth by Julio Baghy. This part also contains English language keys for the lessons, dialogues and exercises, a four-page bibliography and an Esperanto-English dictionary.

One feature, probably unique among Esperanto textbooks, is a section at the beginning: “Communication and the Language Barrier”. Included in four chapters is that story of auxiliary languages, and a description of the current state of Esperanto in the world (in 1988): “Esperanto Today – and Tomorrow”. In addition to the fact that the book is now very out-of-date, it would be better – in my opinion – if the background material were much shorter, or placed in an appendix.

Although the copy that I read is described as the “third edition”, with the exception of the dustcover (which incidentally mentions the internet on the flap) in fact is just a second reprint. It would be great if someone would rework the book for the 21st century.

“Esperanto: Learning and using the international language”
Author: David Richardson
First edition: 1988 (Reprinted 1990, 2004)
Publisher: Esperanto League for North America
Format: 368 pages, 22 cm
ISBN: 0939785064
Available at the book services of Esperanto USA (www.esperanto-usa.org/retbutiko) and UEA

[First published in “Esperanto sub la Suda Kruco” (Australian Esperanto Association), December 2016]

UPDATE (24 Feb 2017):
A slightly updated Kindle edition is now available for sale on Amazon.

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