Lëtzebuergesch fir all Dag. Lektiounen 1-8. Exercicen, by Guy Bentner & Frederic Noens
One of my pleasures in life is to randomly spend time reading material in other languages that I do not happen to now to see how much of it that I can understand and how many cognates exist between the language and ones I happen to know better. As I have been doing a bit of reading about Luxembourg recently and they have an obscure national language I figured it would be worthwhile to read an exercise book whose job it is to provide learners of the language with an opportunity to practice it and although I do not happen to speak or read French or German particularly well I did understand Luxembourgish well enough to recognize quite a lot of what was here and that was pleasing to me. I am aware that this is a rare pleasure and that the thought of trying to read a book in an unfamiliar language that is spoken by only a few hundred thousand people in the world is not a common pleasure but it is certainly one of the more harmless ways that I can think of to pass the time at present.
In terms of its contents, this particular book is made up of the first eight lessons of a course in Luxembourgish that I was able to find and it provides an interesting angle into what sort of speech in the native tongue of Luxembourg is considered to be most important to recognize. Perhaps unsurprisingly the first lesson discusses words to describe how one feels, words for nationality and profession, counting, as well as drinks and basic symbols. Later lessons are more complicated but focus on basic vocabulary as well as the sort of words that might come up in a dialogue. It helps to know, for example, what vehicles are present in a given place or what activities one wants to do. Answering yes (ech) and no (neen) questions is also important, as is figuring out what to call animals that one may encounter in town or country. After eight lessons of increasingly difficult questions with more advanced vocabulary as well as the demonstration of the partially aggluntinative aspects of the Luxembourgish language, the book ends with an answer key that allows the reader (or the teacher of the language) to know the correct responses to the exercises in the book.
Reading this book, even if I was not able to understand it all, was a pleasant and enjoyable experience to me personally, not least because it gave me the chance to ponder how it was that the language of Luxembourgish developed in the midst of contact between low German speakers and French over the course of centuries so that the result was a recognizably different language than German. It is also interesting, if not necessarily surprising, that the German government has not always been quick in recognizing the separate linguistic identity of Luxembourgish even though a great many people in the country are speakers of at least four languages as a result of intensive linguistic education first in Luxembourgish for primary education, and then in French and German and often English as well. It is perhaps not surprising given the large immigrant population in Luxembourg that there might be problems and struggles with people needing to learn how to speak Luxembourgish in order to get along in society. Still, this is a good exercise book even if it somewhat assumes that there is some knowledge already about the Luxembourgish language on the part of the reader or else one would scarcely be able to approach this work.