William Radice’s Teach Yourself Bengali is, essentially, the Bengali text book, though it’s not of course overwhelmed with competition.
But there’s a lessor-known predecessor to Radice’s book, and an earlier entrant in the Teach Yourself series, and it’s this Teach Yourself Bengali, by DF Hudson, that I’m working my way through at the moment in preparation for our forthcoming trip to Kolkata.
I was given a copy by my father in law, though as a native Bengali speaker I was never sure why he’d have a first edition copy of the book, from 1965 no less, though it occurs to me now, for the first time, that it was probably bought for his (English) first wife. Continue reading
The Santiniketan podcasts made a welcome return in February after a three-month absence of new episodes from iTunes.
One episode that immediately caught my eye was ‘William Radice on Bengal Renaissance’ from 2 March.
I’ve mentioned William Radice before on my blog, but in the context of his Teach Yourself Bengali book. In this podcast he’s in conversation with an unnamed interviewer as part of an Open University (OU) discussion. Continue reading
There is a paucity of Bengali resources for the learner. It’s stated in William Radice’s book and is obvious to anyone looking for materials to aid their study.
It’s also something I’m reminded of every time I browse bookshop language sections. Where, faced with ranks of French Conversation, Colloquial Arabic and Extended German Verbs, it’s hard not to start thinking you’re learning an underground language followed only by a handful of adherents, rather than the sixth most widely-spoken language on the planet. The exception to the rule is Waterstones’ flagship Piccadilly branch. It’s a magnificent literary department store and on my visit a couple of months ago it, amazingly, had three books about learning Bengali. Sadly the two non-Radice volumes were expensive and didn’t look particularly inspiring. But at least they were there.
I’d hazard a guess it’s probably the second or third most important Indian language, in terms of number of speakers and cultural importance, but such is Bengali’s historically development and socio-economic place in India, not to mention its comparative marginalisation by the juggernaut that is modern Hindi cinema, that you’d never know. Take the example of the Teach Yourself Books, such as Radice’s, published by Hodder & Staughton. I’m a big fan of their Teach Yourself series, have the Bengali, Hindi and creative writing books and don’t mean to knock them, just harp on a bit more. Continue reading