Don Hosek - Past reading - Linguistics

I'm fascinated by language. Never actually took a proper linguistics class (although I have studied no fewer than five languages formally and a few more on my own). Someday I hope to be able to put this knowledge to good use.

What I've been read in the past - Linguistics
The Korean Language Fundamental 1 by Hee-Seo Park
[Finished 26 December 2022] Geared primarily to children, the book really doesn’t go deeper than the basic letterforms and leaves implicit things like how ᄉ and ᄅ have a different sounds at the end of a syllable than at the beginning of the syllable, but the large size of the Korean text samples at least helps, along with guides for the order and direction of strokes in building the jamo.

Easy Thai: An Introduction to the Thai Language by Gordon H. Allison
[Finished 2 December 2022] A not especially good book. Allison was not a native speaker of Thai nor a linguist, but rather an expatriate (and perhaps a bit of self-important one at that) living in Thailand. This book does not really discuss anything about grammar and pays minimal attention to tones. The bulk of the focus is on teaching the alphabet, but even at that it ends up failing largely because the small type makes it difficult to make out the vital aspects of letter forms (good luck distinguishing between ใ and ไ in the small print which has a lot of bleed or being able to distinguish between ช and ซ).

The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto by David Sierakowiak
[Finished 25 November 2022] A good ground-level view of life in the Łódź ghetto.

Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Conversation by Jean Yates
[Finished 22 March 2022] A book my wife got to push me into building my insufficient Spanish skills. A pretty good resource (I have one year of college Spanish and some scattershot acquisition of the language since then) and this helped fill in some gaps for me. The Kindle format that my wife bought it in is somewhat suboptimal though.

Slovene Complete Course: A Complete Course for Beginners (Teach Yourself) by Andrea Albretti
[Finished 29 May 2019] See my review at

A Primer of Biblical Greek by N. Clayton Croy
[Finished 10 April 2019] See my review at

Essential Latin by George D. A. Sharpley
[Finished 9 July 2017] See my review at

Las Puertas Retorcidas by Kathie Dior
[Finished 18 May 2017] See my review at

Italian in 32 Lessons by Adrienne
[Finished 12 May 2017] See my review at

Aula Internacional 2 by Jaime Corpas, Agustín Garmendia y Carmen Soriano
[Finished 9 June 2016] Este libro es más útil como un libro para usar en la aula que para aprender solo. Lo usé en unos clases de espańol al Instutito Cervantes y estaba muy práctico. Todo el texto es en español, y es necesario tiene un diccionario para usarlo. Creo que un libro similar pero con la intención para faciliatar aprender solo sería muy buen en verdad.

How Happy Became Homosexual: and Other Mysterious Semantic Shifts by Howard Richler
[Finished 8 June 2016] See my review at

The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language by John McWhorter
[Finished 20 May 2016] See my review at

My Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities to Promote your Child’s Language Development by Kimberly Scanlon
[Finished 19 May 2016] Some useful information, although the bulk of the book, the games and activities, could be condensed to about two pages of general principles. I suppose some people might find them helpful though.

The Last Speakers: The Quest to Save the World’s Most Endangered Languages by David K. Harrison
[Finished 30 April 2016] See my review at

English Grammar for Students of Spanish by Emily Spinelli
[Finished 5 February 2016] Having found the Latin book in this series immensely helpful, I thought this would be similarly useful. Alas, Spinelli is too quick to defer to the reader’s textbook for the details of grammar in a way that makes this book far less useful as a standalone volume.

English Grammar for Students of Latin by Norma Goldman and Ladislas Szymanski
[Finished 2 February 2015] Almost a good book, Goldman and Szymanski take readers on a tour of English grammar and its parallel constructions in Latin. Meant more as a reference than a book to be read straight through, each section is headed by a title asking a question about some grammatical point, e.g., “What is a reflexive pronoun?” Where the book fails is in its frequent choices to direct the reader to her Latin textbook rather than simply presenting, e.g., a complete declension or conjugation as appropriate.

Pimsleur Basic Czech
[Finished 6 February 2007] My first audiobook. In this case, it’s something which really can only be presented in audiobook format: Language lessons.

And I have to admit, that I like the Pimsleur format. The pacing is generally pretty slow (although lessons six and ten were both a bit fast compared to the rest of the ten-lesson set), and plenty of repetition means that as long as you’re consistent about doing at least two lessons a week, you don’t generally need to repeat lessons to get the learning from them (although I’ve let the lessons repeat into my iTunes playlist).

I’m not sure if I’m reading things into the conversations that aren’t there, but it seems like lesson nine has our male speaker trying to hit on the female speaker and getting shot down pretty badly. I always enjoy unexpected dialogues in languge learning materials.

But I’m not going to take their offer of a $50 discount on the comprehensive Czech CD set. There are two problems with this set. The first is that the lack of printed materials is a bit disorienting for me. I’m really a visual learner and not being able to see the words has been problematic for me. But even more of a problem is that the pronounciation on the CDs is bad. The male speaker has a tendency to add syllables to the ends of words that just don’t exist (I’ve checked with my father who speaks Czech on this). So whenever the male speaker on the CD says, e.g., “dobry den” it comes out as “dobry deno.” This is completely unacceptable for an audio-learning program. There are also other places where the pronounciation is unclear so, while it was a good introduction to the language, my further studies will be using more traditional paper methods. It’s a pity because it was a nice way to spend my walk home from work.

Greek Letters: From Tablets to Pixels edited by Michael S. Macrakis
[Finished 23 April 1997] A delightful collection from a variety of perspectives on the questions relevant to the production of Greek typefaces. It’s interesting in that the Greek printing community is seemingly unconcerned about the production of quality Greek typefaces, leaving the task to be done largely by Western designers.

A Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin by Carl Darling Buck
[Finished 25 June 1996] A rather heady linguistic work. At times I find myself drowning in a jargon which I don’t speak, but at other times, I find myself seeing linguistic connections that I was never aware of (or not a conscious level). Some of the patterns enumerated are ones that have entered my intuitive understandings of language, but seeing them explicitly defined helps me understand why they work the way that they do. I find myself interested in learning Sanskrit after reading through this book. I’ll have to look into auditing something at CGS when I get the chance.