- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Kodansha USA; 1 edition (April 19, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 4770027982
- ISBN-13: 978-4770027986
- Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.9 x 5.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,469,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Handbook of Common Japanese Phrases 1st Edition
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About the Author
SANSEIDO is a leading publisher of Japanese dictionaries and reference books.
The translator, JOHN BRENNAN, studied Japanese at the University of Chicago and at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he lived and worked for fifteen years. He now lives in Chicago.
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The phrases are given in both kanji and romaji. I would have preferred kanji with furigana, myself, but I suppose using romaji helps people who have no immediate intention of learning the Japanese writing system.
The table of contents lists every phrase, so it's easy to find the one you're looking for. I think maybe it'd have been even better to list only the phrase groups in the table of contents and have the complete phrase list in an appendix, but it's not a big deal.
The only major flaw I see is that it doesn't seem to explain the literal meaning and grammar enough of the phrases you're using. It could be argued that, since these are fixed phrases, that's not strictly necessary. Still, I think it would be helpful to be told that, for instance, "Sumimasen de sumu to omou ka" (which it translates as "Saying you're sorry won't cut it") really means "Do you think [by saying] 'it's inexcusable' it becomes excusable?" -- it makes the phrase more memorable and exercises your knowledge of grammar. Still, somebody who knows enough grammar and who is willing to look up any unfamiliar vocabulary will probably be able to figure these things out.
I'm giving this book four stars, but it's really close to five. This sort of stuff isn't covered so much in the other textbooks I have. I just don't like the deceptive title and how the literal meanings often go unexplained.
It has a large number of very useful and certainly common phrases and includes guidelines on their appropriate use and delivery. Subtle differences between similar phrases are explained. These phrases are worthwhile remembering, however, there is greater variation in their use than this text might lead you to believe.
I have not had occasion to use all of these phrases nor can I claim to have heard all of them in use, but where the contents of the book overlaps with my own experience it is quite accurate. HOWEVER- the section on the protocol for offering prayers for the dead is just plain wrong- (or perhaps it would be better to say that it is greatly at odds with my own experiences in such settings) and that leaves me with some concern over what other errors might be lurking in here.