I'm working through Charles Bell's Grammar of Colloquial Tibetan. There's a lot of beating of mules and mulemen, and capturing of the men who stole the money because it's a century old and written from the point of view of an overseer, but I'm finding the grammar explanation and examples very helpful. Am I hindering myself by using such an old book that really seems to work for me?

Edited to add: First, thanks for the encouraging responses. It's like that time Madonna met Wayne and Garth. My main qualm, perhaps poorly expressed, is Bell's book is largely aimed at speaking to servants and incorporates a lot of grammatical shortcuts embraced by the lower classes like using one case ending for almost everything, which is not what e.g. Andrade's text or my two volume Tibetan grammar text prescribes as opposed to "Bell's book describes and says 'When in Rome...'". Ideally the goal would be speaking colloquially with native speakers but nicely, they aren't all thieving mulemen; I've heard enough that I have a grasp on the rhythm and pronunciation (Bell's presentation works if you've heard the language before). I could already read u.med. but I'm hardly a vocabulary champion.

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    Useful for what? Are you planning to read or speak, if reading then what, and if speaking, where and to whom? Do you just want basic grammar or are you relying on it more as a phrase book? There are a lot of Tibetic languages but I doubt standard Lhasa Tibetan has changed all that much, especially in grammar (how much has English, Arabic, or Mandarin grammar changed in 100 years? Not a great deal).
    – Stuart F
    Apr 24 at 20:15
  • @StuartF in some ways standard prescriptive English grammar has changed quite a lot in the past 100 years, in large part because even the prescriptive guides have dropped a lot of the rules made up in the 18th and 19th centuries that were never reflected in actual speech. Of course you are right that descriptive grammar of standard English (which anything describing itself as "colloquial" likely would be aiming to be) hasn't changed too much, with most change being phonetic and lexical
    – Tristan
    Apr 25 at 8:31
  • @StuartF - Indonesian has changed substantially since as recent as the 1960s.
    – Yellow Sky
    Apr 25 at 17:14


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