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Using Japanese: A Guide to Contemporary Usage Paperback – 25 Apr 2012
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"...the reader will find in UJ [Using Japanese] much useful advice for enriching his or her expressive potential in Japanese, as well as many passages of delightful reading on Japanese language and society." Journal of Japanese Studies
This book, first published in 2000, is a guide to Japanese usage for students who have acquired the basics of the language and wish to extend their knowledge. It gives special attention to those areas of vocabulary and grammar which cause most difficulty to English-speakers, and to questions of style, register, and politeness.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Another highlight in this section is talking about the forms "You" "rashii" and "mitai". Japanese students know these forms are very similar, and often times interchangeable, but this book CLEARLY defines the differences.
But it doesn't stop there. There is just so much packed into this book, that every page is like a study session in and of itself. It's like the authors were trying to pack as much into the book as they possibly could, and boy they couldn't have fit anymore in without making the book longer.
I simply cannot recommend this book enough. If you are a beginner or even an intermediate student, do yourself a huge favor and buy this book. It's that good.
Whatever the case, students of Japanese owe it to themselves to get their hands on a copy. It seems to do everything right. And what it lacks in cute pictures or multiple colors, it makes up for in content and intelligence of presentation. First of all, there is no romanji. Everything is carried out via katakana/hiragana and kanji (though the kanji has furigana so you will never be lost for the reading--a great touch). This is a huge plus. Romanji is so distracting, and if you already know the basics of the language, which this book assumes, you will know the scripts. Therefore, why use romanji?
Secondly, the book is just plain useful for delving deeper into the language and understanding it. For instance, I opened it to a section of the differences in particles. Exactly what constitutes the use of "wa" "ga" or "wo"? How do you know which to use, other than just through having a "feeling" for which is correct? Well, this book will tell you.
When a book this valuable (and going out of print??) comes along, I am almost tempted to get another copy in case something happens to my first one. If you can snap this up used, do it. If you have to pay $65 for a hardback edition, do that, too. Do whatever it takes to get this book. There just isn't anything else that can replicate it (although Kodansha's array of books comes close).
I can't recommend this more highly.