Most helpful critical review
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Obscure and disappointing.
on 15 July 2012
Given the reviews I expected great things of this book but have been consistently disappointed.
Although it's comprehensive in scope, the use of jargon and an irritatingly technical style of writing tends to obscure the points being made and this has meant I've spent more time trying to work out what the author means than I have on brushing up my grammar. Add to this the use of circular logic and the book becomes less a reference work to be consulted when in difficulty or doubt, and more a pain in the neck to spend hours poring over in a vain search for understanding.
One prime example of all this comes in the chapter on nouns. At the beginning of the chapter we are told that the definition of nouns as 'thing' words doesn't tell us very much until we know what a 'thing' is. Next we are told (using unnecessarily noumenous language) that it may be more helpful to consider nouns as the head of a noun-phrase. Unfortunately a noun-phrase is then defined as a phrase whose head is a noun, which - given that we haven't been told what a noun is - doesn't tell us how to distinguish a noun-phrase from a verb-phrase, adjective-phrase, and so on. Not only is this an excellent use of circular logic, it's also pointlessly complicated, and it introduces the simple idea of noun-phrases in such a confusing way I spent a good hour reading just one page in a vain attempt to make some sense of it.
Personally I wouldn't recommend this book to any foreign language students: There are far clearer, less technical, books on the market that deal with the same subject matter more directly and are more useful as references.