Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Two book reviews: "Fabulous Flirty Crochet" and "French for dummies"

So, I'm not much into crochet, it takes more time and requires more hand movement, but sometimes I will find patterns that are hard to resist, like in this book from Katherine Lee, "Fabulous Flirty Crochet". This book is full with fun and pretty designs and I really feel inspired to make some of the tops and scarfs.

The designer, Katherine Lee, has a website, www.sweaterbabe.com, where you can buy many knitting and crochet patterns. I first saw one of her knitting patterns, a vest (looks more like a short dress to me though), on eBay and followed it to her website where I found this shawl, which looked really cute. I contacted her because I wanted some information about the yarn before buying and it turned out that it was the free pattern of the month - cool. :D (I recommend getting her newsletter as she will offer one pattern from her collection for free every month) I didn't really have the suitable yarn at home, but happened to find the original yarn on eBay (there are not only bad guys there :D). I think the shawl calls for six balls and I have only started with the second ball a while ago, so it will probably take a while until I will fnish it, especially since I do not feel like crocheting very often (it requires more concentration than knitting).

Before buying the book I read some of the reviews on Amazon and I was surprised to find that some people gave such negative reviews. One even called the designs cheap-looking?! Well, I'd say, if you're looking for something really really artsy, very very innovative, with a lot of complicated and cleverly constructed bits and pieces, then this is not the right book for you. If you look for nice, fresh and fairly easy crochet patterns, then I'd recommend it. The photographs are all in color (some seem to be a bit overexposed though with somewhat loud colors. Either that or someone did too many modifications with Photoshop) and you can see the details of the different designs well. The book is spiral-bound, which is great, because thus it will lie flat and not fall apart one day even if I open it on the same pages over and over again. The only thing I do not like about the book is the fact that she does not use charts, and I so hate written instructions, but that's about it. And the price is also ok.

The other book I want to talk about is not really about crochet, it's about learning French, but I was reminded about it the other day when I was thinking about the word "crochet", which is French, and how it is pronounced in English.
My English dictionary gives as phonetic transcription this:

while my French dictionary says this:

A while ago, my grandma sent me this book, "French for dummies", and I'd say, this book has not been written for dummies, but by dummies (as I've been taking a quick at the reviews when entering the website for the link I noticed that the book also got some really bad reviews from other readers). This book does not teach the correct phonetic transcription as you would find it in a dictionary, instead it teaches you to pronounce the words the American way, like [e] will become [ei] as in "say" or "pay" (
in my experience it's just how a lot of Americans speaking French sound. It makes me suddenly wonder how British sound when they speak French?), so that you will really sound like an American speaking French, which I'm sure most people who buy this book are not striving for. We may never speak a foreign language perfectly, but we certainly do not want to be taught to sound like a foreigner when speaking this language! I think if a foreign word has become a part of another language and has undergone changes in regard to spelling and/or pronunciation (such as "crochet") that's one thing, but teaching people who are learning another language to pronounce words like they would in their language is another.

There is one review on Amazon where the guy complains that he is not even able to pronounce "bonjour" correctly, because the book teaches him to pronounce it "boNzhoor". Let me give you some more examples:

juin (July) - joon
aoûte (August) - ah-oot
jeudi (Thursday) - joo-dee
The three "oo" stand for three (!) different sounds in French, yet they are represented by the same letters. And with the French word
"aoûte" you do not pronounce the "a" at all, it would really just sound like "oo(t)".

Another example:

jeudi (Thursday) - joo-dee
âge (age) - ahzh

They're not even consistent. Ugh. The "j" in "jeudi" and the "g" in "âge" should be pronounced the same way, hence the same spelling in the dummy phonetic system.

This book is so so so bad, it's really a waste of paper, which actually comes as a surprise, because the publisher, Berlitz, has a well-known reputation in the language instruction field, and they also claim that the authors are highly esteemed instructors (including one with a degree from Sorbonne). Maybe they should not have let them work on the Spanish, Italian and German for dummies books at the same time... It just upsets me when they publish books that teach such crap and sell it to people who are beginners and have no clue about this language, including basic things such as pronunciation, and as a consequence are totally unaware that they are taught nonsense.

2 Kommentare:

Krawuggl said...

Das sind zwei großartige Buchbesprechungen. Das Häkelbuch hört sich toll an, ich mag gern so einfache Muster und ich finde in keiner Weise, daß sie irgendwie billig aussehen. Was mir beim Häkeln so gut gefällt ist, daß mir die Muster noch älter vorkommen als beim Stricken, vielleicht weil meine Oma so viel gehäkelt hat und ich es vor allem von ihrer Generation her kenne. Und wenn man so ein Mustern nimmt, und statt einem Deckchen unter die Blumenvase im Wohnzimmer einen Schal mit einem wunderschönen Mohairgarn draus macht, ist es immer noch das selbe Muster, aber frisch und modern und vollkommen anders. Ich glaube, das ist es, was mich am meisten am Handarbeiten fasziniert, daß die Muster und Stiche seit ewigen Zeiten die gleichen sind, aber sich immer wieder der Mode und der Zeit anpassen können ohne dabei altmodisch oder vollkommen passé zu wirken. Und deinen rosa Schal find ich richtig toll, der würd mir auch gut gefallen.
Und das zweite Buch - da mußte ich so lachen und schmunzeln, und auch wenn es eine wahre Schande ist, daß so ein Buch überhaupt veröffentlicht - was täten wir ohne die scheußlich schlechten Sachen über die wir lästern und lachen können. Das war eine supertolle Rezension von dir!

Rachel said...

Wow. My mediocre high school French has faded by ten years and still even I could have written better French pronunciation guidelines than that. That's just inexcusable!

I recommend you distract yourself with pretty crochet patterns. :)


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