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Classical Japanese: A Grammar

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231135245
ISBN-10: 0231135246
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Classical Japanese: A Grammar
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  • Classical Japanese Reader and Essential Dictionary
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Editorial Reviews

Review

This comprehensive guide... includes in-depth explanations, exercises and literary excerpts useful to beginners as well as advanced speakers.

(Columbia College Today)

A significant contribution to the field of premodern Japanese language and literary studies.

(Stephen D. Miller Monumenta Nipponica)

About the Author

Haruo Shirane is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. He is the author of The Bridge of Dreams: A Poetics of The Tale of Genji and Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Basho; and an editor of Inventing the Classics: Modernity, National Identity, and Japanese Literature and Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600–1900.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (July 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231135246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231135245
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1.4 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the only English language textbook of classical Japanese that is readily available, and it far surpasses earlier attempts to create such a textbook. It is well-organized, explanations of grammatical issues are lucid, examples are aptly chosen, and it is eminently suitable both for teaching and for self-study. Teachers and students of classical Japanese have waited years for a textbook of this caliber and may now celebrate its arrival. Contrary to one other reviewer's complaint, the textbook is indeed a "package" accompanied by a 50-page booklet providing answers to exercises and very convenient tables of basic grammatical forms.
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Format: Hardcover
A very informative and useful book, unlike any other available text in this field in terms of its accessibility and attention to detail. After an overview of basic sentence structure and orthography, the chapters set out the major inflected parts of speech (verbs, adjectives, adjectival verbs, and verb suffixes or jodôshi), followed by non-inflected parts of speech (particles and nouns). The verb suffixes and particles are grouped by function, allowing the subtle differences between similar expressions to be made clear. The final chapters cover honorifics and Nara-period expressions. In all chapters, the grammatical explanations are clear and concise, and the functions of the expressions under discussion are well illustrated by the example sentences, drawn from classical texts.

More advanced material is clearly marked in the "Advanced Study and Reference" sections found throughout the chapters. The inclusion of such material allows the book to serve as a reference for advanced students, but its clear separation in the "Advanced Study and Reference" sections means that it does not overwhelm beginners. The "Historical Note" sections, also found throughout the chapters, describe the evolution of various Japanese expressions over time. This information is not only of interest to advanced learners, but is useful for demonstrating to beginning bungo students the relationship between some classical and modern Japanese expressions. The exercises appended to each chapter provide a valuable opportunity for students to become familiar with classical expressions within a limited context, before going on to read longer texts, and the tables of grammatical forms in the accompanying booklet are extremely useful for quick reference.

All in all, a highly readable work which should be of great interest to students and scholars of classical Japanese regardless of their level of ability.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This grammar is a great textbook/grammar for learning Classical Japanese. The text is kind of like a pedagogical grammar of the language, with many examples from actual Japanese literature. This is perhaps the strongest point of the book. As an earlier book, Introduction to Classical Japanese by Akira Komai, relied on artificial sentences rather then actual sentences.

This book is intended for use by people with some knowledge of modern Japanese, but I would surmise that even someone with little-to-no knowledge of Japanese can get something out of this text. The grammar sections are very clear and have many examples so you can see the language in action. And the vocabulary is introduced in the examples (though not is a conventional way). And with the companion volumes of Classical Japanese A Grammar - Exercise Answers and Tables and Classical Japanese Reader and Essential Dictionary you can get even more out of the text with little-to-no knowledge of Japanese. Of course I'm not advocating this, as a beginner-intermediate knowledge Japanese is advised. But this should give a good idea of the easy to understand nature of the book, and it's clear and concise format.

The historical notes and comparative Modern <-> Classical comparisons are also quite interesting and helpful.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has been invaluable to me as I've been working on a translation project of texts that, despite being from the early 20th century, use many classical constructions. The explanations in English are great, as are the many examples from classical texts. Most helpful to me has been the listing of modern Japanese "equivalents" for each grammatical structure or point. I've been doing the exercises in the back as I complete each section, and have referred to past "lessons" over & over as I work on my own project. The index & tables at the back of the book are enormously helpful -- the whole thing is very well organized. My only wish is that the book weren't so large. I appreciate the book's generous font size, but the whole book seems bigger than necessary.
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