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Beyond Polite Japanese: A Dictionary of Japanese Slang and Colloquialisms Paperback – 19 Apr 2002

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 173 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha International Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition (19 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770027737
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770027733
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 1.5 x 12.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,367,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"An indispensable reference ... as you switch on the TV to watch a cop show or a soap opera." -Asahi Evening News

"An indispensable reference ... as you switch on the TV to watch a cop show or a soap opera." -Asahi Evening News

"An indispensable reference ... as you switch on the TV to watch a cop show or a soap opera." -Asahi Evening News

About the Author

AKIHIKO YONEKAWA is a professor at Baika Women's College in Osaka.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was basically a dictionary of all japanese slang and had plenty of examples. The only problem is that the english translations are very inaccurate and difficult to understand unless you are familiar with rough, uncommon slang words and strange phrases, like "battle axe" being used to describe at old lady.

Most of the words are not actually used in real life unless you are part of the Japanese underworld or yakuza, and the book fails to mention who, when and where each word can be used(Osaka and Tokyo slang are different!). Its only good if you like watching Japanese drama and soap operas.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8c867eac) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c82fba0) out of 5 stars Another Opinion 18 Mar. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I would like to respond to the review entitled "Not the Best." First, the reviewer says the book is not comprehensive. Well, I have looked around quite a bit, and I have yet to find a comprehensive dictionary of slang and colloquialisms even in the Japanese language, so it is a bit much to expect this book to be that dictionary; and then there is the question of whether this book was INTENDED to be comprehensive, which apparently it was not (according to the Preface). Second, the reviewer says that the book is outdated. Well, my understanding from the Preface is that this book is meant to cover traditional slang and colloquial expressions, those expressions which are long-lived and not likely to disappear very quickly. That is, it is meant as a solid foundation for further study but also meant for immediate use in a great variety of common situations. Third, the reviewer complains that the book is arranged "in a not so easy to use format." Here, I agree, but then I cannot think of any other better format, whether alphabetical or whatever; and there is also an index to be referred to.
Overall, I wonder if the reviewer is judging the book not for what it was intended to be, but for what he was expecting, or hoping, it to be--two different things.
In my experience, which has covered a good deal of time in Japan, the expressions in this book are those which you are likely to hear quite often, and therefore form a good foundation for the study of the language. If you want to go beyond this, you are left pretty much on your own at present, and good luck to you.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c9b7f90) out of 5 stars A little dated, but a good primer 16 Feb. 2001
By James R. Hoadley - Published on
Format: Paperback
As one of the other reviewers noted, many other books of "slang Japanese" focus primarily on vulgar vocabulary. While this book does have some pretty salty expressions, it has a great deal more depth than that, including expressions you might actually use. Also, many slang dictionaries are out-of-date before they hit the shelves. Being able to say the equivalent of "I'm a hep cat, daddy-o" in Japanese may have some humorous value, but in the grand scheme of understanding what is being said around you, it's not very useful. So this book has chosen to be quite conservative in the slang and colloquial expressions it uses. As a result, more than 80 percent of the expressions introduced in the book can be used today. It's a good first step out of the textbook and into the real world.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c52d198) out of 5 stars Handy Little Book 19 Mar. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book calls itself "A Dictionary of Japanese Slang and Colloquialisms", and it is exactly that. Unlike some books which claim to teach the colloqual speech and then get bogged down in vulgarity and profanity, this book, though it does feature such things, also spends a good deal of time on idiomatic phrases that will prove to be far more useful in conversation. I found the categorization scheme somewhat whimsical, but it's fun to just flip through the book anyway. There is also an index in the back for fast reference.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ca8a99c) out of 5 stars A good reference, but not everything 3 Oct. 2005
By W. Thielen - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have to agree with "Another opinion". It is a good starting point for those who want to get in touch with Japanese slang, although it is not actual. As said in the preface, slang is something that flows and changes with time. Even in your own mothertongue, you will find that slang changes from time to time, and therefore it is hard to write a good reference book on slang.

I have read this book for 3/4th part, and skimmed through it a bit a few times. I have used some expressions in my daily conversations with my Japanese friends too, and sometimes they got surprised, sometimes they laughed a bit and told me that it was outdated, but it was still funny.

I also have to mention that this book is meant for the advanced students of Japanese, because the translations do not literally agree with what was given in Japanese. You'll have to understand Japanese to be able to decipher the sentence structure and then agree with the translation given (or not :) ) And then, only then, you'll be able to create your own examples!

As a sidenote, if you really want to learn slang, talk to Japanese people, a LOT! That really helps ;)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c9c2a08) out of 5 stars Fun book for learners. Any level of learner is bound to find something interesting. 13 Aug. 2014
By Dustin B. - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've been studying Japanese now for 20 years as a hobby. I've had this book for a while now and come back to it every once in a while for a laugh and learn a few new terms. Despite what it says on the book cover, this is not a dictionary. It's just a collection of interesting/humorous words in casual, sometimes rude example sentences. The author says he picked tried and true words but when trying some out on friends, I have gotten confused looks or laughs saying that maybe just old people say that now. However, the majority are still very much in use.
The one problem I have which I took a star off for is the English translations. I hate it when (especially in a study book meant for English learners), people take liberties with the English translations and completely change it around, losing any resemblance to the original. I think there is TOO much slang in the English where as in the Japanese it may just be a standard sentence with only the word in question being slang. As an advanced learner, this doesn't actually effect me now but it annoyed me as a beginner. Pretty much every sentence is like this, almost like they got someone to go in and edit the English to make it as slangy/rude as possible without regard to the Japanese. Also, don't expect to find any words that have come into vogue the last 20 years or so since most of these are from the 80's or before. Funny thing about slang is once you know it, there's nothing special about it and is just like any other word. I use a large portion of these words already without even thinking it is slang per se, yet there are also many words I would not say but are good to recognize.

It's (loosely) laid out in 10 sections like words relating to people, personalities, emotions, actions, etc. Each example is written in kanji and romaji for beginners. An example might be as follows:

berabou (,×,ç,Ú,¤) "freakish" Outrageous, unheard of.
A thousand f****'n yen for a cup of coffee? No way I can pay that.

Followed by another example, and a note about the history/etymology of the word which is always interesting.

As I said above, I don't like a simple sentence "I can't pay the ridiculous price of 1000 yen for a cup of coffee" turned into two English utterances with a curse word added in to boot. That to me is what is ,×,ç,Ú,¤!
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