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Reviews by Sean Holland

A Reference Grammar of Japanese

It is dense, the romanization is difficult for those of us used to Hepburn roomaji, and it is very difficult to use as a casual reference. The times I have used it successfully usually involved a whole lot of searching, flipping and creative second-guessing of the index. If you are a serious egghead who doesn't mind wading through swamps of irrelevant minutiae to get to your target, this may be the book for you. If you are looking for a quick reference to use as you are reading or writing, this ain't it.

The Japan Foundation Basic Japanese-English Dictionary

I was given this dictionary as a gift. Used it a couple of times; it's a good first attempt at making a Japanese-English dictionary for English speakers that is not just an alphabetised word list. There are example sentences, but not as many or as comprehensive as the example sentences one finds in a dictionary such as Kenyusha's New Collegiate. It is also a "basic" dictionary, as the title implies.

The Modern Reader's Japanese-English Character Dictionary (2nd Revised Edition)

I have the original, well thumbed and bearing the scars of honour won by a book that has not languished on a shelf. I've used the New Nelson a couple of times at a library. It seems pretty good, but I didn't feel motivated to rush out and buy it to replace my old Nelson.

New Japanese-English Character Dictionary

When I first got it (as a gift! Man, I've been lucky that way..) I didn't like it because it seemed to have way too much front matter, much of which was the dictionary praising itself. But little by little I grew to like the ingenious SK*P look-up system; once you get used to the system, you can get to any kanji in a matter of seconds. It isn't as comprehensive in the number of kanji as Nelson, but it is chock full of good information.

Japanese Language Patterns series

This two volume set was given to me by a student as a parting gift when I left Japan. The grammar explanations are simple, to the point, and very effective. I have often used the Alfonso books for ideas about how to explain things to my own students. The disadvantage of the books may be that they are entirely written in roomaji. Since I have used them more as references for teaching ideas rather than as study materials for myself, the roomaji thing is not an issue for me.

2001 kanji

I have a copy of a wonderful little book called "2001 Kanji" by Joseph R. De Roo. My copy was printed in 1982. I had an opportunity to meet Fr. De Roo at the St Joseph Friary back in the eighties and talked to him about his book. He came up with a unique and very effective kanji look-up method, ... read more

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