“Red Bean Words,” Popular with Retired Japanese Restudying English, To Be Reissued

“Red Bean Words,” Popular with Retired Japanese Restudying English, To Be Reissued
Yomiuri Shimbun: 「赤尾の豆単」復刊、英語学び直し層に人気, January 29, 2011

赤尾の豆単5訂版と9訂版 5th and 9th Editions of Fundamental English Words and Phrases
The 5th edition of Akao no Mametan, so popular it will be reprinted, alongside the current 9th edition. Photo by Takehiko Suzuki.

Fundamental English Words and Phrases, affectionately known as Akao no Mametan (Red Bean Words) [the author was named Yoshio Akao, but akamame means “red bean” and tango means “word”], is used by half of all students preparing for university entrance exams, and its 5th edition, first published in 1966, is making such a comeback that Obunsha will reissue it.

“Those who were junior high and high school students during the Tokyo Olympics era are retiring, and it seems they are reassembling their old textbooks and returning to their studies,” the company said.

Mametan was assembled and published in 1960 by company founder Yoshio Akao [who also helped establish the national English exam in 1957]. Its original name was Fundamental English Words, and it is long-time bestseller that has sold over 17,000,000 copies and is currently on its 9th edition. The 5th edition used revolutionary computer analysis to select 7800 words which commonly appear on the entrance exam, and the most important among them were printed in red for emphasis. 300,000 copies were sold each year until it was replaced by a new edition in 1971.

「赤尾の豆単」の愛称で親しまれ、大学受験生の2人に1人が使うと言われた旺文社の
「英語基本単語熟語集」5訂版(1966年刊)が復刊され、人気を集めている。

同社は「東京五輪の頃に受験生だった中高年の方が退職し、昔使った教材で学習し直しているようだ」と見ている。

「豆単」は35年に同社創業者の赤尾好夫氏が編集して発刊。
名称は「英語基本単語集」に改称したが、現在の9訂版まで改訂を重ね、累計1700万部を超えるロングセラー。

復刊された5訂版は、当時としては画期的なコンピューター分析で入試に出やすい約7800語を選び、
重要語句は赤字にしたことなどが支持され、71年の改訂まで毎年30万部を売り上げた。

(2011年1月29日14時57分 読売新聞)

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