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What Japanese text or poetry can I learn that would be profitable for learning Japanese language ?

LiuLang

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Hi. I am looking for a text to learn by heart in order to learn Japanese (with the help of the translation). I love learning texts and I really want to see where it can take me. So what I need is :
  1. a text that is long enough (or a set of shorter texts). Very short texts (Haiku for example) might be not very interesting as they are necessarily poor in many regards (simple or vague sentence structure, for example).
  2. A text that is possible and interesting to learn. So the best would be poetry, and in any case not a technical notice for a microwave. Like, I started to learn Dante's Inferno because I was interested in Italian, that was a nice text to learn. It was nice also for my personal culture, so I feel motivated and I am happy I learnt a little bit of this text. I would like to find an equivalent in Japanese. Of course, beyond poetry there are other texts that might be interesting and valuable to learn, so I am open to suggestion.
  3. A text that is useful for learning today's Japanese. Here, Dante's text is not a good example, as it is absolutely useless if you want to learn contemporary Italian, since the language has changed to a great extent. So I don't want an old text that would be very difficult to understand even for Japanese people now.
  4. A text that is translated in English. (Or French, for that matter). If there is no translation it is useless.

Please, I know there are lots of reasons to doubt that language can be learnt that way. Do not discourage me ! I just want to give it a try and learn what I can learn. Discussing the idea can be an interesting topic too, but now what I need is to find an adequate text first.

Thank you very much for your suggestions !
 

LiuLang

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What is your level? A beginner learner?

Hi Toritoribe,

Again, the point here is not to learn Japanese with a manual adapted to a specific level. It is a completely different approach, so my level is not relevant. The text may be complicated -- I will still learn it and get what I can get from it (the longer the better, so I can slowly understand the logic). I do not want to learn a text written for pre-schoolers or a text written in a language manual, it is not interesting.
If you can suggest a text that meets all my requirements (points 1 to 4 above), that would be a lot already, no need to add further considerations !!!
Thanks
 

Toritoribe

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Buy a work by 村上春樹 Murakami Haruki, for instance. You can quite easily find his novels and English or even French translations. If you want free materials, Japan Times has English articles and the Japanese versions. (Click 全訳 button right to the title of each article).
英語のニュース | The Japan Times ST オンライン

I don't believe you method works well, though. You wouldn't even be able to read the Japanese texts without textbooks...
 

LiuLang

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I did not really consider learning a novel before, but Murakami is not a bad idea, thanks ! And I like his novels, too. It is just that I would rather learn a real classic of Japanese culture, which makes it more worth the pain. Maybe Kawabata would be more satisfying in that regard. Or Mishima ?
Also, a novel will be much harder to learn than a poem, which has rimes (or similar play with sounds) and rythmes in it. My first choice (by far) would still be a long, classic poem, and my second choice a classic novel. So I am still open for suggestions!

Also : I am well aware of the difficulties to read the text in Japanese. It would be important to have a digital version, so I can easily use the various tools on Internet to read it. [That is a fifth requirement I forgot : a digital version of the text should be available!]. Yes, textbooks is a possible tool among others, and also asking some natives to check that I'm not mistaken.

As for the method, it is inspired by the wonderful story told in The Ignorant Schoolmaster, by Jacques Rancière. Beyond what it suggests about learning foreign languages, it is a wonderful philosophical reading so I warmly recommend it.

Many thanks
 

Toritoribe

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Here's 智恵子抄 Chiekoshō by 高村光太郎 Takamura Kōtarō, and its English translation (not all poems, though).
Kōtarō Takamura - Wikipedia

高村光太郎 智恵子抄
The Chieko Poems by Kotaro Takamura - English translation

I don't know if you understand the Japanese writing system, but I believe machine translators have never succeeded in reading Japanese texts perfectly correctly so far due to multi-readings of kanji.

I gave you the link of Japan Times in my previous post since the sentence constructions used in newspaper articles are helpful for understanding Japanese grammar, and I think you might be able to find some articles you are interested in there. Literary works, whether novels or poems, are usually more complicated than newspaper articles, so I don't think it's useful for beginner learners.
 

Jorge AVM

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Hi! Try any bilingual anthology of japanese poetry. But, in many cases, you will learn an old language, like studying Shakespeare to learn English... It is not a bad idea but it is not practical if your goal is not to learn as literature or linguistics student... In any case try song lyrics of japanese bands or singers... I believe would be better for what you're looking for...
 
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