Reviews - What do customers think about Wilding's Greek for Beginners: Answer Key?
Some Fatal Flaws Mar What Would Otherwise be a Valuable Addition to the Repertoire May 9, 2006
[The second edition, ISBN 1585101842, answers pretty much all the complaints here. It's no longer nearly as concise, but it's now a choice well worth considering.]
I've just had a look at this book. I was drawn to consider it for my beginning Greek classes because of its admirable concision: it covers all the basics in 32 chapters, which occupy 168 pp. of this book. At my college, we try to get through the basics in two nine-week terms, so Shelmerdine's stated intention of delivering students as quickly as possible to "reading the authors who inspired them to learn the language in the first place" is my intention too.
The explanations are clear, reasonably complete, and reasonably adapted to American students' prior unfamiliarity with grammar (this last apparently not a feature of Wilding's original before Shelmerdine revised it). There are plenty of sentences (Greek to English and English to Greek). These have a decidedly military bent (as fits in with the passages selected from Xenophon and Herodotus), but they are not as outrageously "made up" and un-Greek as in some of the other textbooks. The passages adapted from the original can also be counted as a strength--while as I've suggested they retain the flavor of Wilding's day (the "military bent"), they are many, interesting, and sometimes delightful. (They are nowhere listed. In general, this book, while it has the expected glossaries and morphological tables in the back, skimps on such aids--apparently an index of topics treated in the textbook was an extra the publisher thought we wouldn't miss! Wrong.)
Why won't I be assigning this textbook? Another reviewer hit the nail on the head with this observation: Ten made-up Greek sentences on the last page are the ONLY practice students are given with -mi verbs--weird. Such major constructions as future more vivid conditions come in Chapter 30 of 32. I don't feel comfortable reserving such topics to the effective status of footnotes (though I can easily imagine teachers who are comfortable reintroducing these topics rigorously in the follow-up reading course).
I would have recommended the book for independent learners (there's an answer key) or grammar-reviewers who want some good passages (which Mastronarde gives too rarely) to liven things up. But after consulting an online review (ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2005/2005-05-14.html), I realized that my quick glance at this book failed to catch some major weaknesses. In my copy, fresh from the publisher, the errors mentioned by Professor Clayton have NOT been corrected. And I was shocked to be informed that Shelmerdine's textbook nowhere treats the potential optative--one of the most ubiquitous constructions in real Greek texts.
Without significant improvements, I'm afraid this book won't serve anyone too well, after all. (As I edit this review, this site is not allowing me to change my original star rating, which I would no longer bestow.)
Not so great Dec 11, 2004
The book is ok. If you are looking for a summary or just straight grammar, then this is the book for you. It does have some exercises; however, it is too short and does not give the reader enough practice or ability to play around with the language. Something that I feel, as a classical studies student, is a must to master the early stages of the language. I am most disapointed with the summary in the back of the book, because it is not organized well enough for the reader to use until they start to reach the end of the book.
In conclusion, this is a good book only when combined with others.
Wilding's Greek for Beginners Jun 24, 2004
Previous review of this text is unfair. I worked through nearly every Greek sentence in this book and found a couple of mistakes. What does "FORMS ARE MISQUOTED" mean? By implication, this text, which is a useful and competent introduction to the language, is dragged through the mud. It is pretty easy to recommend the monster volumes of Hansen and Quinn under the assumption that more is better. I found that students advance to serious reading of Greek quickly and enthusiasitically with this text. What is the problem?
Warning, Contains Errors Feb 5, 2004
Although a replacement or update for Hanson and Quinn's "Greek an Intensive Course" is desperately needed, this book is not it. This book does have some strong points. These include small, logically ordered, accessible chapters (BUT, see below); clear charts (BUT, see below), and a preference for reading extended passages adapted from Greek authors (cf. H&Q's exercise sentences, which are awful). However there are a number of flaws, which preclude me from recommending this book. First, saving the athematic "Mi" verbs till the last chapter is inexcusable. These verbs are way too important and way too common to be so marginalized. Second, saving the principal parts of verbs until Ch. 21 (11 chapters from the end) is likewise inexcusable. Greek principal parts are also way too important, and are an ongoing problem for students and readers of Greek. They absolutely should not have been left for so late in the book. Students need to drill these from the get go. Lastly, there are factual errors in the text; FORMS ARE MISQUOTED. For the teacher to have to correct the textbook is awkward and a few incorrect forms can give the student the impression that no forms can be securely trusted. Students need to trust they know their forms if they are going to make any progress in the language. For these reasons, as a Greek teacher I reluctantly cannot recommend this text for learning Greek. For the time being, stick with (and it pains me to say this) Hansen and Quinn.
Fine Introduction Oct 15, 2000
Contrary to the listing here, this book is still in print (re-printed fall 1999), but you have to go to British sources for it (Blackwell's I think). I like the way this book gets into the language fast and doesn't hit the student with complex forms off the top. I also don't mind the way Wilding refers back to another book for grammatical forms, as this trains the student to work with grammar books, a very useful skill. I do wish it covered the 'mi' verbs, but I can do this near the course end anyway.