Say It Right in Japanese: The Fastest Way to Correct Pronunciation by EPLS

4 / 10
a compact phrasebook for business travel or vacation; adequately organized; includes searchable table of contents and index; mentions a few relevant tips for each topic; includes an English-Japanese vocabulary glossary; if you appreciate the way the pronunciation key works, it can help your Japanese phrases sound better (but not better than hearing and imitating an audio CD or cassette)

if you don’t enjoy the unique pronunciation symbols, there’s nothing here that isn’t done better in another phrase book; written in foreigner-friendly romaji transliteration only, so it’s missing real Japanese script; the selection of topics isn’t tailored especially for travel to Japan – some categories are missing, others could be left out; merely offers survival phrases

Say It Right in Japanese sets out to accomplish a single goal: to provide a book of basic Japanese words and phrases, and to visually represent pronunciation with modified letters.

The Say It Right series revolves around this pronunciation key, which the author considers unique and effective. Beside each phrase in standard romanized Japanese, you will find a written key that demonstrates how to pronounce the phrase. In that key, vowels are circled, consonants are capitalized and words are broken into syllables with hyphens. The cover of the book gives one example, using the word Konnichi wa (“hello!”).

Besides the pronunciation key, this guide offers nothing that you wouldn’t expect from a run-of-the-mill Japanese phrasebook. You’ll find phrases dealing with a typical selection of topics – hotels, restaurants, sightseeing, business, health, etc. One nice feature is the “phrasemaker” section that recurs throughout the book. It helps you combine the beginning of a phrase (“I want to go…”) with options for finishing the phrase (“to the bank”, “to the hotel”, and so on).

The book ends with a very short English to Japanese “dictionary”, which lists words alongside pronunciation keys. The final page gives a short topical index, and the inside front and back covers double as a guide to the book’s pronunciation system (the consonant and vowel symbols used in their key).

If you can’t handle its telltale pronunciation symbols,Say It Right in Japanese has little to offer you. But, if the pronunciation key is your kind of thing, this is a good, basic survival Japanese phrasebook. In any case, I would recommend another way of learning to imitate a native speaker’s pronunciation – making a Japanese friend, listening to audio CDs, or using another pronunciation system (for instance, IPA is more accurate). I don’t recommend this if you’re really looking for “the fastest way to correct pronunciation”, but it’s not the worst buy if you’re looking to learn some Japanese basic phrases.

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