Whether you are looking for a room, visiting a monastery, or bargaining for a bus seat, Learning Practical Tibetan will make immediate communication with Tibetans easy and fun. This book is designed for anyone wishing to communicate with Tibetans, either in Asia or in the west, and is suitable for beginners as well for students familiar with the Tibetan language.
Learning Practical Tibetan begins with a simple but complete grammar so that you can immediately begin to form your own sentences. Using both Tibetan script and an easy-to-understand phonetic system, the book then presents useful vocabulary, phrases, and dialogues related to situations you might encounter with Tibetans: eating in restaurants, shopping, speaking to monks, traveling with pilgrims, or visiting a Tibetan doctor. The appendix provides helpful sections on Tibetan numbers, dates, telling time, festivals, religious terms, and an extensive vocabulary list.
Accompanying tapes are available from Snow Lion if you would like to hear how the words and phrases are spoken by a native.
The purpose of this book and its accompanying tapes is to give you the skill to converse in Tibetan in as short a time as possible. No prior foreign language skills are needed, nor a special capacity for learning foreign languages. Although Tibetan script has been included for students of Tibetan, all of the words and phrases are also written in phonetics. You need only become familiar with the various sounds in the phonetic system, learn the phrases you feel are most important, and listen to the tapes to make sure your pronunciation is correct. Smiles of recognition, warm invitations, and pleasant surprises will follow. It has been our experience that when westerners give an inch towards communication, Tibetans give a mile.
Learning Practical Tibetan grew out of the Tibetan Phrasebook, which was published in 1987 by Snow Lion Publications. Many students of the Tibetan language told us that this was a wonderful book— much more than a phrasebook—as it helped them understand the basics of the spoken Tibetan language. Based upon numerous requests, we have enlarged the format of this book to presents the Tibetan script, while maintaining the easy phonetic system and the cassette tapes that made the original phrasebook so popular. We think that this new edition will be an excellent language-learning tool for Tibetan language students of all levels, as well as for travelers, and even native Tibetan speakers wishing to learn English.
The information found in Learning Practical Tibetan was compiled by both a native Tibetan and westerner based on their experiences with Tibetan people. Some additional information has been supplied by friends who have recently returned from Tibet. Though the focus of this material is on the country of Tibet, the phrases introduced are equally applicable to interactions with Tibetans in Nepal, India, or anywhere else.
The material presented in this book is tailored to typical situations one might encounter: going to a restaurant, traveling with pilgrims, visiting a monastery, and so on. The dialogues present cultural customs and mannerisms as you will find them, and they also provide valuable tips about specific places of interest in Nepal and Tibet. They prepare you to visit a Tibetan doctor, behave with proper etiquette in a monastery, and even tell you what to expect on a journey overland.
Regarding the romanization of Tibetan, we have gauged ours more for the English speaker to "get by" than for a precise, native-like result. This simplified way of pronunciation is sufficient because dialects vary so much from province to province. Therefore slight differences of pronunciation are common, and Tibetan ears are tolerant. Perfecting nuances of pronunciation is not necessary at the beginning level, and will make little difference in being understood. Listening to the tapes that complement this book is an excellent way to improve your pronunciation, because it will allow you to actually hear the writ-ten words in the book being spoken by a native.
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