Spoken Language Services - Ceased Operations

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ilmari
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Languages: French (N), English, Hebrew, Japanese. Studying (right now): Spanish, Korean, Russian. Studying (by fits and starts): Italian, Finnish, Polish, Yiddish, Classical Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Indonesian, Maori, Latin, Esperanto. Would love to study: Swedish, Turkish, Swahili, Ancient Greek.
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Re: Spoken Language Services

Postby ilmari » Mon Jun 06, 2016 10:12 pm

Wow! What a recommendation. I'm kind of tempted to bump up Urdu on my bucket list just so I can use the course, but it's good to know that there are additional courses and reference book by the same author for the future.


M.A.R. Barker was the creator of the fantasy world of Tékumel http://www.tekumel.com, including its languages:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tékumel#Languages
http://www.omniglot.com/conscripts/tekumel.php.

He put the same amount of care for details and accuracy in his Urdu course. I haven't sticked much with Urdu, life has brought me somewhere else, but I remember fondly this book as one of the best language courses I have ever studied. Seeing this Amazon review, it seems I am not the only one: http://www.amazon.com/Spoken-Urdu-Muhammad-Abd-Al-Rahman-Barker/dp/0879503408

Barker has also written A Course in Baluchi. I just found out it is freely available here!
https://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Barker%2C+Muhammad+Abd-al-Rahman%22
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n_j_f
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Studying: French (B1), Persian (beginner), Irish (beginner), Latin (A2)

Up Next: Watch This Space

Flirting With: Turkish

On the back-burner: Russian, German, Brazilian Portuguese

Bucket List: Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Hindi/Urdu, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, Modern Greek, Tamil, Singhalese, Malayalam
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Re: Spoken Language Services

Postby n_j_f » Sat Mar 11, 2017 12:54 pm

Not sure if anyone is aware, but the Spoken Language Services website has been down the last couple of weeks. Hopefully they're not another one of these 'old school' publishers of language courses to bite the dust like Cortina, Dunwoody Press, et. al.

Note to self: Better bite the bullet and buy those Urdu and the Hindustani courses I have had my eye on the last couple of years from Amazon before they go out of print.
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Speakeasy
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Location: Canada (Montréal region)
Languages: English (N), French (C2). Studying: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Polish, and Russian; all with widely varying degrees of application, enthusiasm, and success.
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Re: Spoken Language Services

Postby Speakeasy » Sat Mar 11, 2017 2:13 pm

In my few dealings with Spoken Language Services, I came away with the vague sense that their business had declined over the years and that it and become something of a secondary operation...

As an example, last year, I attempted to order the Spoken Russian course manuals but could not complete the transaction owing to difficulties with the website. I sent a couple of Emails, but did not receive a reply. Finally, I called them on the telephone. The person on the other end seemed genuinely surprised that someone was attempting to place an order; however, he made every effort to help me out. This leaves me wondering whether or not the operator of Spoken Language Services is even aware that the website is down.

A couple of internet services provide the information below, for which Google Maps shows a private residence. I recommend that prospective buyers attempt to reach the company by telephone. For what it's worth, I have also appended their old Email address.

Spoken Language Services
805 Silver St
Urbana, IL 61801
United States
Tel: (217) 328-0173
Email (?) Orders <orders@spokenlanguageservices.com>

EDITED: Typos
Last edited by Speakeasy on Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Speakeasy
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Languages: English (N), French (C2). Studying: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Polish, and Russian; all with widely varying degrees of application, enthusiasm, and success.
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Re: Spoken Language Services

Postby Speakeasy » Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:13 pm

Curious to know what the current situation of Spoken Language Services is, I have just sent the following Email to which I appended the above post from n_j_f and my response to it:


"Spoken Language Services
Customer Service

Gentlemen:

I am addressing this note to you using the Email addresses from the last time we corresponded, in October, 2015. I have copied/pasted a portion of a discussion thread from the “A Language Learner’s Forum” wherein it has been reported that the website of Spoken Language Services is down. Could you please advise whether or not Spoken Language Services is an on-going business and whether or not you would be interested in processing customer orders? Thank you.

Kind regards,
(NAME REDACTED)"
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Daristani
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Re: Spoken Language Services

Postby Daristani » Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:18 pm

Re the comments above on the SLS "Spoken Urdu" materials, I want to add a bit of background.

The books:

The course was originally published as "A Course in Urdu" by McGill University's Institute of Islamic Studies in 1967 in hardcover, large format (8 1/2 x 11 inches). The book is largely in transliteration, and the print is quite small but still readable. When SLS republished the books in 1975, it did so in a smaller format, with the already-small print being very, very small indeed. You can still read it, but I wouldn't recommend it unless your eyes are pretty good. I think that the books are probably the most comprehensive introduction to Urdu available, but they do reflect the technology of the time (type-written).

The audio:

The audio to the first volume of the course has been floating around on the internet for quite a while, but the quality is not very good. I haven't seen any audio online for the rest of the course. I don't know what the quality of the audio as obtained new from SLS might be, but I suspect that it would still exhibit the technology of the 1960s. Whether obtaining it would be worthwhile for a prospective learner of Urdu, I can't say, but note that a more modern textbook with audio has recently been published that, even if not as comprehensive, might offer a more up-to-date introduction to the language:

Beginning Urdu: A Complete Course
Author: Joshua H. Pien
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
ISBN: 9781589017788
Date: 2012
Pages: 665

As for a similar book by the author of the SLS Urdu book, M. A. R. Barker, his "A Course in Baluchi", noted by ilmari above, was also published by McGill University in 1969 in two volumes. In format and approach, it's virtually identical to the Urdu course, so anyone interested in the Urdu course might take a look at it to see how it's organized. The books, which are almost impossible to find for sale anywhere, have been put online by the university itself at:

http://www.library.mcgill.ca/hostedjour ... 01021.html

as well as at the archive.org link provided by ilmari.

This course had audio, but I've never been able to find it. I wrote to Barker himself a number of years ago, and even he didn't have the audio, but he said the University of Minnesota had it. That university was supposedly going to digitize it and put it on line, but it never seems to have happened. I wrote e-mails a couple of times to the person who was listed as being in charge of that project, but never got a response.
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Speakeasy
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Re: Spoken Language Services - Ceased Operations

Postby Speakeasy » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:13 pm

Earlier today, I received the following Email from Spoken Language Services:

"Spoken Language Services ceased business as of January 1, 2017, and the website was taken down shortly after that. We are no longer accepting or processing orders. I'm sorry for any inconvenience this causes. All the best."

I edited my original post so as to include "Ceased Operations" in the title.
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Daristani
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Re: Spoken Language Services - Ceased Operations

Postby Daristani » Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:34 pm

Thanks for looking into this, Speakeasy; it's sad news, especially after the demise of Dunwoody Press and Cortina, but it serves to cast a spotlight on the value of the work that you, along with jpjazz, n_j_f, and ericounet did in saving the Cortina materials from oblivion.

Maybe we can take comfort in the fact that a lot of the Spoken Language materials have been around for many years, meaning that 1) used copies are still fairly easy to come by and 2) the likelihood of at least some of the more valuable materials' being digitized and put up online or otherwise shared by "pirates" is fairly high. They were never as rare as the Dunwoody materials. (Some of them, such as both volumes of the Russian course, along with the audio, are already available in this way.) Furthermore, since some of the materials are quite old, they may not amount to much of a loss except for those interested in them as historical relics. Also, I think some of the earlier courses formed the basis of FSI audio-lingual courses that are available.

I also hope that, just as with the Dunwoody materials, the Spoken Language Services inventory may somehow make it to the market and be sold on EBay, by Amazon sellers, etc.
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