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BOOK NOTICES 995 first as a member of the US occupation forces, and later as a businessman—is an extremely perceptive observer, and is the author of many popular books on Japanese topics (the cover blurb says he has produced 26). He displays himself in JA as not only unusually knowledgeable about the Japanese language and its speakers , but also as an excellent role model for anyone undertaking to study Japanese seriously. I had hoped that, in this note, I could congratulate S for making JA even more valuable to its readers by purging it of a certain amount of misinformation contained in its 1968 edition, and by improving some less than satisfactory descriptions oflinguistic phenomena. As it turns out, the second edition is not much different from the first; the only chapter which is extensively revised is (appropriately enough) that on 'Slang and Current idiom', though that chapter has shrunk from six pages to four. What needs correction is not so much statements like 'Japanese ... is now in what is called the agglutinative stage ofits development' (p. 3; the dubious belief that Japanese is on its way to some more advanced 'stage' won't hinder one's learning of the language), but rather S's distressing vagueness on some details ofJapanese pronunciation. A careful reader will probably figure out that, by 'soft g' (31), he means [n]; but S has aimed his book at readers who can't be relied on to be that careful. The pronunciation chapter has two separate passages (33, 34) on the devoicing of vowels, which leave it unclear whether they are describing devoicing or shortening, or whether the phenomenon described in the two passages is the same. The description of palatalization describes only Cy combinations, but not Ci; the frequent failure by Americans to palatalize in the latter cases can lead to misunderstandings (as when I once ordered crab and was brought curry). S is surely correct that the learner can do without learning the Japanese accentual system (31), but he could at least have given an accurate description of it (mentioning that what is distinctive is the place where the pitch drops) for the benefit of the occasional interested reader. The list of characteristics of miscellaneous dialects (154-6) misleadingly suggests that the dialect differences are less systematic than they are; e.g., the monophthongization of ß/ to ee in Tokyo is claimed to be restricted to 'certain verbs', and the adjective ending -ka is said to be a feature of Hakata dialect (rather than most of Kyushu) and to be found in 'many' rather than all adjectives. S's description of the bewildering range ofways to say T and 'you' cites washi as 'used mostly by older men in the rural districts' (116); but it is also a prominent characteristic of what S.-I. Harada called shachögo 'company president language' (in the Japanese translations of James Bond novels, M regularly says washi). S doesn't make clearthe conditions under which anata, the only word for 'you' that most foreigners are taught, is normal (e.g., as a vocative it is used only by women when speaking to a husband or boyfriend, and in that case is best translated into English as 'darling'). I hope that my negative comments will not deter anyone from buying JA. It is filled with valuable advice about how to study Japanese (including suggestions about the difficult task of convincing Japanese that one can speak their language); useful information about important topics that are rarely taken up in conventional textbooks, such as gestures and insults; and a rich corpus of cautionary tales about linguistic bungling by foreigners. Ironically, the only serious typographical error is the inadvertent correction of an rll interchange in the banner alleged to have once been displayed in Tokyo, saying 'We play for MacArthur's erection.' [James D. McCawley, University ofChicago.] A history of semantics. By W. Terrence Gordon. (Amsterdam studies in the theory and history of linguistic Science, III: Studies in the history of linguistics, 30.) Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins, 1982. Pp. vi, 284. G's book is a welcome attempt to fill a considerable gap in the history of linguistics, in the form of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 995-996
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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