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How to Sound Intelligent in Japanese: A Vocabulary Builder (Kodansha's Children's Classics)

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-4770028594
ISBN-10: 4770028598
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Editorial Reviews

Review

" ... an easy, interesting way of learning new words." -- The Nikkei Weekly

"... an inviting read through the inclusion of interesting etymologies and, sometimes, jocular example sentences." -- John Benedict, Asahi Evening News

"... this small book offers a wealth of difficult vocabulary presented in an accessible, interesting format." -- Leza Lowitz, The Japan Times

"A highly recommended reference work for the serious student." -- Tokyo Today

"The author's explanations of usage solve long-standing mysteries." -- The Daily Yomiuri

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Kodansha's Children's Classics
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA (February 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770028598
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770028594
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.5 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,008,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am a little surprised at some of the other reviews of this book. It's title I feel can be a little misleading and there is no way this book will make you sound "pedantic or insincere". It really is a Vocabulary Builder and is meant to be a quick and concise way to build specialist vocabulary across many topics. I am quick to add though, that this is not specialist vocabulary in your native language, in fact if you could not speak on the topics and using the words described in English in this book you would most probably be considered ignorant. Too many people live in Japan, learn a little Japanese and then think that the Japanese don't talk about politics, business, science, religon etc in everyday ilfe. The sad fact may be they don't talk to you about it because they don't think you could talk about it.

This book is a great way to learn a lot of vocab. Chapters are split into topics with an excellent background and etymology for most chapters and also excellent examples in both romaji and kanji, so you can increase your kana and spoken comprehension at the same time. If you are already a fairly strong reader and speaker of japanese this book can help you reach into new topics.
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By A Customer on January 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have studied Japanese for quite some time, and managed to get a good grasp of basic vocabulary and most sentence patterns, but was at a loss for words when the conversation became the least bit intellectual. This book filled in the gap in my Japanese quite nicely. Most textbooks are geared at least in part for the tourist, presenting practical, but simplistic conversations. If you know that you are going to need to discuss anything beyond the weather and your health in Japanese, I would strongly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
As a longtime student and translator of the Japanese language, I would like to see more books like this on the market, in contrast to the sea of books that focus on Japanese slang, foreign loanwords, and profanity. Japanese academics and professionals who operate in an English-speaking environment don't expect to get a free pass on difficult English vocabulary. "How to Sound Intelligent in Japanese" seems to be based on the premise that foreign speakers of Japanese should also be able to handle advanced terminology.
Historically, native Japanese speakers have been amazed at a foreigner who can manage even a passable sentence or two in their language. Ten years ago, it was not uncommon for Japanese to heap praise on an American visitor to Tokyo for correctly ordering lunch without resorting to English. Americans were even complimented for knowing how to say "konnichiwa" and "ohayoo gozaimasu."
Today, the bar has been raised substantially, and a reasonable comprehension of professional and academic terminology is needed in order to be taken seriously as a foreign speaker of Japanese. This is especially true if you intend to rely on your Japanese skills in a professional context. "How to Sound Intelligent in Japanese" can help the intermediate student to polish her skills to the point where Japanese speakers will regard her as an adult speaker of their language.
The book is laid out in a convenient thematic format, so you can focus on the areas which are most relevant to your own needs and interests (science, law, etc.) There are enough example sentences to give you a sense of the context in which the specialized vocabulary items are used.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're looking to go from talking about the weather and what your favorite food is to more complicated topics, then this IS NOT the book for you.

This book is geared for students who already have a very good grasp of the language, i.e. are at about a can-read-the-newspaper level and are looking to move to a can-attend-Japanese-college level.

Some sample sentences are something in my wildest imagination I would never use unless I was in a graduate seminar.

But, for its intended purpose, it's a very good book.

It breaks up the topics into subjects such as philosophy, religion, politics, economics...and then gives key words that are used in these arenas. In this way I find it useful. (I'm at about a JLPT 2 level.)
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Format: Paperback
I like this book because it groups a lot of the basic vocabulary you need about specialized fields. You don't have to go searching through a dictionary to pick it all up. There is maybe one field where I feel fairly confident, but most of the rest I'm not that interested in and only want the vocabulary because I absolutely need it to listen to a lecture, read a book or the newspaper, or just talk to someone who I know will bring up a certain topic because it's in the news or it is their pet pieve.
The book is also useful because the author tries now and then to give hints on differences between certain words or groups of words. That's something you will definitely not find in a dictionary.
If you're a beginner, you can just read the commentary and look at the lists and pick up what you need, not try to memorize everything. If you're more advanced you can read the sample sentences. I definitely don't agree with those who say if you're intermediate or advanced, you can go out and read the books themselves, and don't need a book like this. I don't want to be reading many Japanese science books, but I still want to know how to say chemistry. The easier it is, the better, and this book does make it easier.
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