actually very useful for the independent learner2011/5/16
Paul R. Hays
I have been searching for something for an independent learner of Japanese. And while the book does go into detail of the traditional grammar and the traditional explanations for Japanese, it is useful because it shows the internal structure and the way the grammar reflects the patterns of use. It can be a bit heavy going for womeone unfamiliar with Japanese, but for an learner who has been trying to put things in perspective, this is a great explanation. It also does not drift into the cultural arrogance of European Languages, which seem to think that all grammar is derived from Latin. As a non-european language, the non-european explanation is refreshing.
Some good some bad2010/8/25
Okay, I've been hunting for a Japanese grammar that is organised based on topic, as opposed to the normal alphabetical organisation. So I was excited when I saw this book. Organised based on topics. However, now I would say that the book didn't live up to its promise. It is not a bad book, but I have two worries:
First, the book is uneven. It starts explaining what a noun and a verb is. ("Okay this is a very basic grammar, I guess.") Then it jumps into an historical overview of different verb forms, using terminology from Japanese grammars. ("What? Did I miss anything? Now were into ancient Japanese and in the previous chapter we were told what a verb is? Did I miss something?") I don't mind being told Japanese terminology (actually quite useful), but not as an alternative to English.
Second, the author doesn't seem to know if he wants to write a historical grammar or a modern grammar. For instance: The book include 'wi' and 'we' in the kana. These characters haven't been used in half a century. The book also includes an obscure way of writing very large numbers. These characters are also not used anymore, despite the author stating that the approach is useful for science. It is very easy to add factual knowledge like this and it is much harder to describe more abstract notions in grammar, like syntax. When there is so much focus on factual knowledge I start to worry about the true competence of the author.
Update: Almost immediately after posting the review, do I get negative feedback. Why trash my review rather than write a positive review? I think we can all tell the answer.
Outstanding grammar book2012/7/10
This book is by far the most comprehensive beginners grammar book I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I particularly like the information regarding particle usage and the fact that the book uses kana and kanji throughout. I actually learned quite a few kanji just reading the book for grammar info. I did read it cover to cover 3 times already, and it is my go to book for a reference before anything else.
I have also referred this book to several of my friends and Japanese study groups. As a self taught Japanese learner, I think that finding the best reference materials is truly essential in gaining a usable knowledge of the Japanese language, and I only share what is worth sharing. 5 stars all the way.