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Basic Cantonese: A Grammar and Workbook (Grammar Workbooks)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2009
I've had this book for a little while now, but it (sadly) hasn't really helped very much. This is a shame, as for a reference grammar it has a lot going for it - plenty of examples, enough exercises to get to grips with the language, and explanations that really aren't bad at all.

No, the big problem is the lack of Chinese characters. There is a wide variety of vocabulary used, and literal translations are not always given - leaving the student floundering, having to look up each word, when the inclusion of the characters would make the task infinitely easier for anyone who knew them.

In any case, it's not like it's difficult to learn the writings (see James Heisig's books), and when learnt, all of Chinese falls nicely into place. You can feasibly understand anything written in just a few months, and excluding them means that literacy is that much further away from all students. Yes, Cantonese is primarily a spoken language - but being able to read and write lets you build up word-power in it very quickly. Without... and you're just stringing together apparently disparate, orphaned sounds.

That said, the resources out there for learning Cantonese are few and far between, and it's not bad for getting a feel of the language - it's just disappointing that the authors decided to omit the characters, and this sadly renders the book a lot less helpful than it could have been.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2000
This book is a must-have for any student of Cantonese language. The book relies heavily on linguistic/grammatical terms to get each grammar point across to the reader, but as compensation, a glossary of grammatical terms is provided.
The essential elements of Cantonese grammar are introduced and explained in separate units, there are 18 units altogether. Each grammar point is explained as straight-forwardly as possible, with an accompanying example in Cantonese (Yale romanisation). At the end of each unit a test is provided.
A slight let-down is the exclusion of Chinese characters. This book just briefly touches the grammar and semantics of the language, for further info read: Intermediate Cantonese, and Cantonese: A Comprehensive Grammar, by the same Authors, and publishers.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2008
I bought this book a couple of weeks ago and I am very pleased with the contents. I am a beginner and so far I had only learnt a few words from my friend who is a native speaker but it is difficult for her to explain the grammar. I have only gone through a few chapters but I am already understanding better the pronounciation and the structure. I can start to make full sentences in Cantonese rather than just saying words or expressions.
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on 20 January 2015
Highly recommend for anybody learning Cantonese. This is a book only and has no audio.
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