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Cantonese: A Comprehensive Grammar (Comprehensive Grammars) Paperback – 20 Oct 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (20 Oct. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 041508945X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415089456
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,180,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Learners of any language will often have to refer to a grammar reference sometime in their studies. The authors of this grammar also have other grammars out for various levels of study, but the comprehensive one, is perhaps killing several birds with one stone.

I rate this 4 stars, because it does a very good job in presenting Cantonese grammar and syntax in a way which is understandable and enjoyable. But, for people who have learnt Chinese in another form, say Mandarin, don't think this is an easy book, because you can read Chinese. There is, in fact, no chinese characters in it at all. It would have been very helpful had they put them in, but over the years, having been a speaker of a similar language - Hakka, I've come to the conclusion that to learn another Chinese language from already knowing one initially, it is probably more work, but ultimately less fallable if you start anew, and not resting on your laurels just by getting the gist from Chinese characters. Often, Cantonese surprises you with constructions and vocabulary totally different to Mandarin, and Matthews and Yip's choice not to put in Chinese characters (for me at least) is sound. Some people will not like it for that reason.
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Format: Paperback
This book is very comprehensive, providing an academic approach to the language. Students of linguistics would be comfortable with this book, but it is still accessible to people who are at least comfortable with basic linguistics terms like nouns and verbs. For those readers who might need a reminder, an appendix provides a glossary of terms used.

Concepts are explained with many examples using Yale romanisation. Ideas are laid out in a very structured manner, as you might expect of a textbook. As said in a previous review there are no characters at all (due to the high level of inconsistency between spoken and written Cantonese), so bear in mind this is a book for people interested in speaking the language.

The only downside in my opinion was the high price of this book (probably due to the relatively specialist area). If you are seriously considering studying Cantonese however, this is the best book I've come across - the content more than makes up for this downside. If you have a more casual interest, you might find "Colloqiual Cantonese" by Keith S.T. Tong and Gregory James a good start.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than you will ever want to know . . . 10 May 2000
By puiwaihin@angelfire.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This grammar is well written and comprehensive. It is heavy on linguistic terminology, but the language is altogether descriptive. While primarily beneficial to advanced learners, intermediate Cantonese students could find this helpful as well. Matthews also succeeds in lightening up a deep subject with interesting and fun examples. He also helps readers connect with the meanings of the words and phrases by giving both direct translations and the equivalent meaning side-by-side in these examples. The book is the modern definitive work on the Cantonese language. It teaches a complex subject and is complex itself. I recommend the book for anyone interested in understanding the mechanics of Cantonese, or for anyone wanting to find comparisons with Mandarin.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A comphrensive guide of Cantonese 10 April 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a comphrensive guide of Cantonese and well-organized. Authors tried to use the method of analyzing English in writing this book. So I do think that it is good for those who have basic knowledge about English grammar.
The book is also user-friendly. There are many examples which are very up-today. Moreover, the grammar in focus is on bold in the examples that help reader understanding the grammatical point easily.
I should say the book will be better if Chinese characters are provided
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for advanced students 24 Feb. 2000
By Andrew Ashton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Cantonese is traditionally a spoken language, but these days a language must have a standard written grammatical structure in order to survive. This book provides the first intensive study of written Cantonese, often providing a reference to a related Colloquial structure. Great for advanced students or those studying grammatical structure of languages.
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars shame about characters 6 Jun. 2000
By F. Wong - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a good way of learning Chinese, using patterns, and it uses the Yale romanization. It does not contain any characters though.
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