How to Sound Intelligent in Japanese is a Kodansha International publication.
Historically, native Japanese speakers have been amazed at a foreigner who can manage even a passable sentence or two in their language. Ten years ago, it was not uncommon for Japanese to heap praise on an American visitor to Tokyo for correctly ordering lunch without resorting to English. Americans were even complimented for knowing how to say "konnichiwa" and "ohayoo gozaimasu."
Today, the bar has been raised substantially, and a reasonable comprehension of professional and academic terminology is needed in order to be taken seriously as a foreign speaker of Japanese. This is especially true if you intend to rely on your Japanese skills in a professional context. "How to Sound Intelligent in Japanese" can help the intermediate student to polish her skills to the point where Japanese speakers will regard her as an adult speaker of their language.
The book is laid out in a convenient thematic format, so you can focus on the areas which are most relevant to your own needs and interests (science, law, etc.) There are enough example sentences to give you a sense of the context in which the specialized vocabulary items are used.Read more ›
The book is also useful because the author tries now and then to give hints on differences between certain words or groups of words. That's something you will definitely not find in a dictionary.
If you're a beginner, you can just read the commentary and look at the lists and pick up what you need, not try to memorize everything. If you're more advanced you can read the sample sentences. I definitely don't agree with those who say if you're intermediate or advanced, you can go out and read the books themselves, and don't need a book like this. I don't want to be reading many Japanese science books, but I still want to know how to say chemistry. The easier it is, the better, and this book does make it easier.