Dictionary of Japanese Particles Paperback – 1 May 1999
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About the Author
SUE A. KAWASHIMA received BA (Cum Laude) and MA degrees from Columbia University and is now a lecturer in Japanese language at Hunter College of the City University of New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
It contains a clear listing of the particles used in modern Japanese (in alphabetical order). Each entry explains briefly the uses of the particle, with examples, and if necessary, it compares it to easily confused particles.
Examples are displayed in Japanese (with furigana) and romanized letters, and an English translation is also provided. I would have liked no romanization at all, but this dictionary tries to be useful to any student of Japanese, at any level. In my view, the romanized letters are too big, and makes the text less clear than expected.
It also includes exercises to practice the usage of the different particles, with key.
In any case, this book is a great reference.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book is a true gem.
The definition portion of the book discusses all the particle meanings, giving main as well as variant meanings. There are lots of example sentences, which are in both Roman transliteration and Japanese script. Another helpful aid is the 12 x 14 table of particles in blue in the front and end papers of the book, which is very convenient. At 340 pages long, there is a lot of material here considering it's not that expensive a book.
In the grammar discussion section, the author shows why you just can't replace the prepositions in an English sentence with the particles in Japanese. For example, take the sentence, "My mother and my father had dinner at a restaurant in Tokyo with a friend," which is Watashi NO haha TO chichi WA tomodachi TO issho NI tookyoo NO resuturan DO yuushoku O tabe-mashita in Japanese (the particles are in all caps). This sentence contains 8 particles serving various functions and only two prepositions, so obviously they aren't equivalent.
Particles can serve many different functions, ranging from altering the meaning of the verb to functions that resemble case-marking in Indo-European and other Ural- Altaic languages. The Negara particle indicates that the action described by the verb it follows is being carried out at the same time as another action is taking place. The English approximation is "while doing" or "also doing," as in Boku WA ongaku o, kiki negara doraibu o shita, which means, "I was listening to music while I drove."
Other interesting particles include Tara, which indicates the subject or topic of the sentence, similar to the case marking in so-called Active languages, as opposed to the Nominative-Accusative pattern in English in most Indo-European languages, or the Ergative-Absolutive pattern found in Eskimo, Caucasian languages, south Pacific island and Austronesian languages, and so on. (Basque is also an ergative language, but is the only one in Europe that is.) Then there is the Nite particle, which is placed after a noun of location, which shows where an action took place. This also seems similar to the locative case in many languages, although technically Japanese lacks cases. To give one final example, the TO particle performs a listing function and is used when naming things in succession.
Since Japanese has no case structure and all but two of the verbs are completely regular, Japanese lacks many of the difficulties encountered in other languages. Compared to Indo-European patterns, it isn't very rich in verb forms that deal with time, and it even lacks a true future tense (which Latin does too, interestingly enough). However, it makes up for this in it's variety of modal constructions which indicate the speaker's attitude toward the subject, possibility, probability, conditionality, and so on, and in the complex particle system. This book will help you master this extremely important aspect of Japanese grammar.
You should have this book.