Thursday, February 10, 2011

「元気」に比べて「Japanese Demystified」。

Reading through Japanese Demystified and finding a lot to like. A lot of it's material we've covered in Genki. It could use much more vocab but does group vocab meaningfully where present. It doesn't do much with kanji, but unlike some other books, it doesn't shy away from kanji and kana in its examples. Romaji is included throughout, which tends to grab the eye too fast but is great for moving quickly through examples. I definitely prefer the organization; its all-business approach is more structured and thorough and probably is better suited to an adult learner. The largely image-based approach in Genki certainly has value, in that it can create more direct associations in the memory than a strictly verbal approach can; but this book skips the very long dialogues and random vocab sections and offers some pieces of the puzzle that Genki omits.

An example of the thoroughness I like is in ch. 14, the section on auxiliary verbs that show timing or extent—just two four-line explanations, with a generous string of varied examples for each, but at least it discusses hajimeru, dasu, kakeru, owaru, tsuzukeru, yamu, nareru, sugiru, tsukusu, kiru, and makuru—verbs that function in pretty much the same way—all in the same place. I think Genki covers hajimeru, tsuzukeru, and owaru together and sugiru someplace else—at least, as of chapter 20 of 23—but this is much more helpful to me, in that it shows a broader range of expression based on a single structure. (I'd known that nareru was to get used to something, but nowhere had I seen that it could be used as -hajimeru, etc., can be used.) I also really like the breadth of the examples; they're ample but seem well chosen to reflect the syntax variants we're likely to encounter. (AはBより / BよりAは, etc.)

Definite kudos for using the words phonomime, phenomime, and psychomime—a far cry from メアリーのホームステー! (Not to harsh on メアリーさん at all, but her experience and mine are pretty different.)

A few discrepancies have jumped out as I've run through (270 pages this evening!) that I'm wondering about. Eg, Demystified says that we shouldn't use 上手 (jouzu) to refer to our own abilities but should instead use 得意 (tokui). テニスが得意です。 True? I think I remember Genki using just 上手 for all exercises. (What are you good at? テニスと料理が上手です。) I may be wrong about that.

Addendum: Another thing I like about JD is that, because it's meant for self-study, it includes exercises and tests with answer keys. And a nuance to the good point about structure: some of it seems a bit mislabeled, or at least there seems sometime to be a disconnect between the chapter and the lesson. And it introduces the locatory で only 200+ pages in. If I were writing a textbook, I'd cover で very early—first who did what, then when and where, and finally why and how. で would fit into where. りんごを食べました。 [Someone] ate an apple. Where? 家. At [someone's] house. Pretty basic stuff to be introducing so late, after far more complex stuff.

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