Only the other day was I heralding the appearance of two brand new Routledge Essential Grammars – and just in time for Christmas, too. So what should land on my doormat this week but the very latest addition, Filipino : An Essential Grammar? There’s no such thing as coincidences, I hear you cry!
Any new language is a welcome addition to Routledge’s solid family of language learning texts, and with this one, it’s a double whammy; it pips the publisher’s own Colloquial series, which still lacks a Filipino / Tagalog title. For a language with upwards of 80+ million speakers worldwide, the book plugs a textbook gap with the solid, practical approach we’ve come to love from the Essential collection.
Filipino : A Concise But Comprehensive Essential
At just shy of 200 pages, the title, penned by Sheila Zamar, is one of the lighter volumes in the series (check out the brilliant Icelandic edition for a true doorstop of a book, for comparison). That said, it’s by no means light on content, divided into well-defined parts-of-speech chapters. Each of these is concise and snappy, but still chock-full of examples of language in use.
As a self-confessed verb obsessive, it’s extremely satisfying to see four very chunky sections (nearly half the book) taken up with a systematic presentation of the verbal system. It’s what you’d expect, given the quite different (and fascinating) classes of Austronesian conjugation, but the exposition and explanation is handled with neat, logical progression. Handily, glosses are provided alongside many of the examples, so you can see exactly what is going on in a given sentence.
(Type)set for Success
If you’re a fan of the series you’ll have already noticed, but I should add a word or two about the excellent formatting of the whole reissued grammar series. From the clean, sans-serif fonts to the clutter-free setting of the tables, the new editions are all exceptionally clear and easy to read. The block-colour covers in blues, aquamarines, crimsons and bricks look both artsy and academically serious at the same time, although that leaves me with one mystery: what do the cover colours signify, if anything? My first thought was language groups or families, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Perhaps authors have the option to choose their own favourite as a wee thank you for their work. Answers on a postcard in the comments.
Filipino : An Essential Grammar is certainly worthy of its essential title in a not-so-crowded textbook field for the language. Heartily recommended for serious learners and casually interested polyglots alike!
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