Turns out, I didn’t have as much time to read as I thought I would, so I “only” read 10 pages today.
Your comment reminded me of something! A while ago I ran a book club on another forum where our discussion was in Japanese, and I’ve been wanting to try to put one together here as well, but was putting it off in order to focus on reading for a while. Maybe it’s getting about time to start asking around if folks would be interested in such a thing …
Writing essays is very bad for brain energy as it turns out; definitely looking forward to being done with that I got some reading in though! A bit of ZTD, a bit of ラストゲーム in a (failed) attempt to refresh my brain, tried watching some stuff, etc. so not the most productive reading day I’ve ever had but hey it all counts! I’m almost free lmao
In adjacent news I’m very much set for reading adventures this summer; I may have picked up some more golden week things but I’ll be finishing Zero Escape in the near-ish future so that’s an excuse right? But yeah I still have AI: The Somnium Files lined up, and I also got the STEINS;GATE bundle that was on sale bc why not, people have been bugging me to watch it for ages so I’ll just play it instead! I also gave in and figured out how to buy that バディミッションBOND game so that’ll be interesting. Hey what am I working for if not to buy ridiculous visual novels??
So yeah between that and the games I already had lingering around (looking at you Persona 4 and also all of my manga I haven’t touched whoops) and 海辺のカフカ, I should have no problem finding stuff to read I’m excited to have more time to do all of it! Soon
Congratulations, that’s a great accomplishment! I certainly hadn’t registered it was a graded reader from the bits you’ve posted so clearly don’t underestimate graded readers It’s definitely something to be proud of!
Oooh that sounds really cool! It’d be real challenge for me for sure, but I’d be interested to try
I’m tempted but also semi horrified at the idea of my grammar errors being so openly on display Depending on the book I might bite. I wonder if a purposefully easier read might be better, so the difficulty of discussions is lessened? Sometimes even describing my thoughts on hard Japanese writing in English is difficult.
Ah, I meant the 34-35 range. I thought your point was that the vocabulary difficulty doesn’t matter much (as long as the word is in the dictionary).
That’s pretty much my standard as well. And by that standard, 39 would be the level of someone who finished (or is close to finish) high school versus 34 the level of someone entering high school. At the end of the day, that’s not that much difference, but I still think it’s more 39.
A fun development: I got curious and googled a bit, and found the notes of a student who read part of こころ as a mandatory assignment during their second year of high school. So we are at least in the correct ballpark
I didn’t know such note sharing website existed, but it’s pretty cool!
Well, I had thought at first that I was doing better today (even got to bed relatively early last night and woke up relatively late this morning!), but I spent most of it lying down and needing copious breaks. And then I developed a knot in my shoulder, because of course I did. I feel like I’m developing one in either my neck or my shoulder every few weeks lately, it’s annoying. I never used to but occasionally.
I read 1 pg of 2.43, putting me on pg 83. Unfortunately, after that is when the knot developed, and I decided that something where I wouln’t have to move as much would be better.
I finished the challenge to unlock Urbosa in ゼルダ無双 today! I think Koga-as-Urbosa speaks a little bit differently than Urbosa herself does, which I didn’t pick up on when playing in English. But then again, you only see Koga-as-Urbosa use “だい,” while you can hear Urbosa using “だ” in similar contexts. Also, TIL that Sooga’s name in the original is スッパ. I totally didn’t hear that at all the first time I played! I thought it would be スガ or possibly スーガ, but nope.
Before I reset, I’d been playing with English text and Japanese voices. I wasn’t even the slightest bit inclined to see what they sound like in English. DQXI, on the other hand, I did get a bit curious after I wrote my first (and still only, at least finished) fic for it and found that I feel like Erik would be the type to drop his g’s in English. He doesn’t in the text, but then, a lot of people don’t do that it writing except to show a strong accent (which I don’t see him as having, and also, I am not one of those people lol), so that doesn’t necessarily mean he wouldn’t in speech. So I made a new save file and set voices to English, since I felt like starting at the beginning. At first it was fine, up until present day. I can’t remember whose voice it was that made me switch back to Japanese—Gemma’s, maybe? Right before the second cutscene with Erik, I switched it back to English, and pretty much the moment he opened his mouth, I was like, “Nope, nope, skip cutscene! Skip cutscene!” So I still don’t know what he sounds like in English, and I am no longer inclined to find out.
Well, I’m off to bed soon. Hopefully a good night’s sleep will help my shoulder feel better, and not just make it worse. And hopefully tomorrow I’ll finally get to read at least the next ch of クールドジ男子 and the next two of 夜カフェ…
I was going to talk a bit about this in my next study log post, haha, but I feel like maybe there’d be more interest in the topic here? It would certainly have more readers
I actually went down a bit of a rabbit hole a couple weeks ago because the library I work at had this book available digitally:
Tono, Yukio. Research on Dictionary Use in the Context of Foreign Language Learning : Focus on Reading Comprehension . Reprint 2012. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2001.
It’s from 2001, so new research might have supplanted it, but I was curious enough about the subject, haha, I ended up skimming my way through most of the book.
Here are some thoughts
From what I read, there’s unfortunately not a whole lot of research on the difference between monolingual and bilingual dictionary use (at least, as of the time that this book was published). Overall language ability was a much more accurate predictor of how proficient the students were at using dictionaries and comprehending what they were reading. Bilingual dictionaries were by far the most popular among the students, but some advanced readers appreciated monolingual dictionaries
Many of the subjects in the various studies had their own dictionary preferences, but it didn’t seem like the monolingual dictionaries gave them a particular advantage. In one 1998 study, there was no clear task difference in the results, though the author of this book remarked that it’s possible that the tasks were too easy for them.
Of course, these studies were all testing short-term stuff, like the ability of students to complete specific tasks, and didn’t really examine regular dictionary use over a long period of time. Though it did seem pretty clear that using any dictionary was better than going without, at least in terms of general reading comprehension of any given passage and ability to successfully complete tasks. Using a dictionary provides superior comprehension compared to trying to understand purely through context.
Apparently this philosophy has at times been controversial (many language teachers focused very heavily on learning through context and discouraged extensive dictionary use), though I think most of us self-learners here are pretty lax haha and recognize the value of reading intensely and using a dictionary. You do still learn from extensive reading, but not as much as you learn from intensive reading where you make an effort to look up words instead of just guessing from context, it seems.
The author of the book also pointed out that your first language has a huge effect on the ease of using monolingual dictionaries. If your native language is very close to the language you’re learning, it makes it way easier to use a monolingual dictionary.
Of course, plenty of other stuff affects this. Like not only monolingual/bilingual dictionary, but the specific dictionary being used and the information it contains (like providing context sentences usually does more to help students understand how words are used rather than simply specifying part of speech and such), as well as the reader’s ability to know how to effectively navigate the dictionary.
I guess my conclusion from what I read (which, granted, was not the whole book, haha) is that there’s a much bigger difference in reading comprehension between reading with a dictionary and reading without one than there is a difference in comprehension between reading with a monolingual dictionary and a bilingual one, so I’ve decided to prioritize ease of dictionary use above any other factors. I want to make it as easy as possible for me to (intensively) read as much as possible. As my language skill improves, monolingual dictionaries will get easier to use, and I’ll probably find myself wanting to make the full shift eventually.
I do wonder if any new research on the topic of dictionaries and language learning has been published after the book mentioned above, and if any of it specifically addressed bilingual vs monolingual dictionaries in terms of long term benefits to language acquisition, or even addressing newer technologies like popup dictionaries like Yomichan, which undoubtedly change the entire process.
My thought is that probably no matter what you do, there will be trade-offs, and it’s just up to the individual to decide which trade-offs are worth it and which ones aren’t. For me and you, perhaps the time/energy trade-off to go monolingual currently just isn’t worth it, whereas for others in the thread, the costs aren’t as frustrating. I think whatever method gets you looking forward to reading, and which doesn’t make you dread doing your flash cards, is probably the best method for that person. Once you reach a high level, it all pretty much evens out anyway.
Also I read 19% → 24% of モテ薬 tonight. It’s…fine. Like the audiobook is good, the writing style isn’t bad, the topic is interesting enough but I’m just not that drawn in tbh. I only have 5.5 hours left in the audiobook though (160 pages) so I’ll probably just finish it out as quickly as I can.
It is so easy to be dismissive of the difficulty because it is a graded reader, so thanks for affirming that it wasn’t weird for me to struggle (even after reading some native material).
Well, your comment might be even better at validating my feeling that this one stepped up a notch in difficulty.
Japanese Classics, Soseki, plus more historical/classic stories in graded readers
@pocketcat congratulated me on my first Japanese classic finished, and that got me to wonder if any of the other stories in Ask Graded Readers are considered classics. Because there are others.
To be clear though, all of them are simplified to some degree. How much isn’t made clear anywhere. Also, I’m not sure if any of them are cut for length.
The ones I’ll mention are all in level 4, meaning:
クラス = 中級
語彙数 = 1300
文字数 /１話 = 5000 ~ 10 000
(Which if I understand it correctly, means that it uses 1300 different vocabulary words, and each booklet is 5000 ~ 10 000 characters. (Possibly each booklet is more like 10 000 characters but any one story (when there is more than one) is at least 5000.) That is what I figure after trying to look up those terms multiple times.)
So 坊っちゃん was two booklets which probably makes it around 20k characters? Don’t know if that is close to the original or not.
Anyway, lets list some of the others that might be classics that I’ve read (but all of them (in this graded reader form) were easier than 坊っちゃん):
走れメロス by 太宰 治 (according to wikipedia this is a classic read widely read in Japanese schools)
杜子春 by 芥川 龍之介 (recognized that name before I looked it up, Akutagawa story! No idea if this one is considered classic, beyond being written by this author)
雪女 by 小泉 八雲 (plus more stories by him) (this is an interesting one, he isn’t Japanese, and I can’t even find out (through quick wikipedia checking) if he wrote the stories in the graded readers in Japanese; but his collecting of Japanese fairy tales and folk lore stories seems to be liked in Japan? So is these Japanese classics? I have no idea )
野菊の墓 by 伊藤 左千夫 (pen name) (is anything written before a certain year considered classic? I honestly don’t know what defines a classic from just a work written long ago.
森鴎外短編集：高瀬舟、最後の一句 by 森 鷗外 (pen name) (Also seems to be a classical writer, although none of these stories were mentioned on English wikipedia, and no I’m not about to brave Japanese wikipedia. )
So I guess I have read a few different classical authors in simplified (and probably modernized) versions.
While I liked some of those stories mentioned above. I’ve liked none as much as I did 坊っちゃん. So I look forward to getting better at Japanese and being able to tackle Soseki directly. Perhaps even reread 坊っちゃん in its original state. Not something I’m planing anytime soon. But I’ll have to remember to revisit Soseki.
So can heartily recommend.
Huh, I might have to check out the sentence a day thread. Maybe not exactly right now, but when I want to dive more into producing again.
Dictionary use, study methods and tangents from yours truly
Interesting, thanks for sharing! <3
I’m about to use what you wrote here to talk a bit about things I think about. Don’t feel like I’m opposing you or even necessarily saying these things in direct relation to what you said. I just kinda got up on my soap box and digressed all over the place.
I feel this (being dictionary use or not) also depends on the difficulty of material, but the research might not have gone into that too much.
I guess it also depends on what kind of reading. Intensive vs extensive, easy vs hard. Where those two scales both are would probably decide for me whether I would use a dictionary, and how much to use it.
I know for me personally, the breadth of my English vocabulary comes from reading extensively and mostly without a dictionary (life before smart phones and such). So there is certainly a point where reading without any dictionary becomes possible with little or no loss in comprehension.
But this might have been a bit of tangent. I’m prone to those.
I think it is also important to also take into account that we are not all the same. That one tool might work better for A than it does for B from all kinds of reasons (how each person’s brain works, previous experience, current situation around them (high stress/low stress for example), etc.).
Sometimes I feel like people talk about efficiency like it looks exactly the same for everyone. That there is this one optimal (time-wise) way of learning. If that existed, and was that universal, I feel like school/college/university would probably have found the method by now and all learning would be done the same. Instead I feel like it is becoming clearer and clearer, the longer we have standardized ways of teaching, that in fact not everyone learns the same way. That one method might be more effective for person A than person B.
I often call myself good at taking tests and good at school, like it is/was a skill. And it is. I could figure out what teachers meant to ask in their tests, even when they fumbled the question. I had high grades in school and barely had to study for tests. Not because I’m this genius, but because the way things were taught in school makes me learn really well/easily. So I retained and learnt the material super well during lessons, and didn’t need the extra repetitions before tests.
I recognize that this is not a universal skill. That most people had to study for tests. I might have been a bit arrogant in my youth about it. (Look at me getting the highest grade and I didn’t even study. Hahaha… me = idiot; to be a bit fairer to myself I mostly said that to good friends who were also pretty good at school, but still ) But the higher I went in education, the more I had to struggle because teaching methods changed. At the same time, I met more people, seeing how they might understand something well but be poor at taking tests. Or how they thrived with the new teaching methods, or struggled worse than I did. (Experience adds to understand apparently. )
Anyway, I’ll finish this digression. (Have I mentioned I’m really good at relating things to my cherished topics? No? Man, I swear I did… )
So back to the topic more specifically. It might be trade-offs, but it might just be that one thing works for A and not so well for B. That is why a learning community like this is so valuable because we can learn how other people do things and try them for ourselves to see if those methods help with our learning. But we have to remember that there is no method that are superior to all others.
Some methods might in general be more efficient, or faster, or more comprehensive, but they are only those things if that method works for you. And if it doesn’t work so well for you (or stopped working as well), then consider trying something else without feeling guilty for not using that method anymore.
*gets off soap box*
Next booklet in volume 3 of level 4 Ask Graded Reader is telling/retelling of 四十七人の侍. I look forward to reading it even though I’ve read it before (but not in Japanese).
So I don’t know if my understanding matches what’s generally understood by “classic”, but in my mind there are two “levels” to this: The first level would be texts written in kobun, i.e. classical literary Japanese that’s pretty different from modern Japanese so I wouldn’t stand the slightest chance in understanding it. The second level would be texts written before the major script reform in 1945/46.
For your list of authors:
太宰 and 芥川 are of course super-well known authors.
小泉 八雲 (whose name at the time of birth was Lafcadio Hearn) lived in Japan for 15 years (until he died) and allowed the West go gain a deep glance into the old Japan.
Also, look what I have on my shelf!
My neighbor gave this to me because “you do Japanese, right?”
(the subtitle says “Life and experiences/adventures in old Japan”)
伊藤 左千夫 is unknown to me. But he seems to be a poet rather than a writer, so there’s that. (Not going to touch poets any time soon, if ever )
森鴎外 is also a very well-known author, although he was a medical doctor by profession. He spent some time in Germany and was a bit of the inverse of Hearn in that he opened the Western world to his Japanese readership. I just listened to a talk about him where it was mentioned that he wrote like crazy, and until today not all of his writings have been covered academically yet
I know him because I read 高瀬舟 with a reading circle at some point (and liked it a lot; I found it to be quite thought-provoking). That one was not too difficult actually.
Regarding whether a certain text is a classic or not: I think many of these authors produced many many texts (short stories are still popular in Japan nowadays, but I feel like back in the day there were hardly any authors who would write really long books - Soseki might be an exception there). So I wouldn’t worry too much whether a given text is actually a classic or not. The authors definitely are.
Bookwalker features some editions and they are around 250 pages, so… it was probably shortened slightly
I also read a simplified version of this at some point before getting into books. I don’t remember being that into it, which is interesting as I love reading 太宰 now. I suppose it’s a classic in the sense you’re forced to read it in school
I’m not familiar with this story, but I personally don’t like 芥川’s writing style that much
I and @Daisoujou have both read the original of this. It’s a classic folktale!
Hahahaha I think there is some other criteria but I’ve been reading through public domain works based on a popularity list so I may be biased to thinking all that’s been saved is good. I definitely know 漱石、太宰、and 芥川 are classic authors because I’ve seen/heard them referenced in Japanese in other contexts. Not sure about the others you listed - neither the titles nor the author names rang bells for me. @NicoleRauch 's answer here (which I read after typing this up ) is much better.
Honestly it doesn’t matter to me if someone is reading the graded reader versions or the originals, an accomplishment is an accomplishment and a big part of reading these classics is having a window into the culture. I’m glad you enjoyed 坊っちゃん so much and you have me wanting to read it sometime!
My vision is of a low-pressure environment, like a bookclub that meets up at a bar or something. A place where people can feel comfortable just saying whatever they’re thinking, even if their command of the language is less than perfect.
Towards that goal, I was thinking it might work to choose a book that either was previously discussed in a book club, or one that’s currently being read in a book club. That way hardcore grammar questions can be answered in English in another thread, and we can focus on chatting about the story and whatever else comes up in Japanese.
To keep the atmosphere more like a social club that happens to be in Japanese, rather than a language help club, the other thing I was thinking (which people might feel is a bit more radical) is that we don’t do any grammar correction in-thread. I know almost everyone here is very interested in intensive study, but in-thread corrections could derail the focus of the group on just having a fun conversation in Japanese, and might also make folks more self-conscious and embarrassed of their own mistakes.
More on that: We all have plenty of opportunities to study intensively; this club would be focusing on the skill of actually getting the words out there in the first place, making it clear what you’re trying to say even if you don’t have the right words, getting into the flow of a conversation. (But all that in the low-pressure environment of a forum, where you have plenty of time to compose yourself and look up words if you straight up can’t remember them …) Speaking from personal experience, you’ll likely be surprised how much you’re able to communicate, even if you’ve literally never tried to communicate in Japanese before!
Of course, if we don’t understand what someone’s trying to say it would be fine to ask them for clarification, or if they make a really embarrassing mistake just warning them about it as an aside, or if they make a really funny mistake sharing the joke in a gentle way. That all seems like good bar banter.
And I’m totally open to feedback! This all depends on having a group of people who have more or less the same goal in mind, so if you’re interested, please share any suggestions, preferences, ideas, etc!
Edit to add: if there’s interest, I can make a new thread for discussing it, so we don’t derail this one too too much.
I finished reading shiba inu vol 1 yesterday, so good time for a new update. It’s a pretty strange read, probably because it likes asking philosphical questions and references a lot of stuff. Not difficult to read, but a bit confusing to understand. The art is pretty good and all in color, plus shiba faces. Sharing some of the funny moments with you.
Might as well continue with vol 2 and 3 while I’m there. On the other hand, I have decided to (re)play Persona 4 Golden as my next game in Japanese. I made a little start with that this weekend. So far it’s good, yeah it’s slow going of course but what else is new. The animation sequences are dubbed in english, which was so unexpected it just passed me by. And with JP subs as well, very hilarious. Anyway I have played this game before till completion (platinum trophy on vita) and watched both animes as well, so it’s not like I’ll miss anything that important. I’m mostly here for the dialogue. It’s definitely good practice for both reading and listening, which is something I’m not used to together like that. Game is basically half a rpg and half a visual novel, the audio logs have proved helpful already as it’s easy to misread or mishear stuff. I’ll keep posting updates on this as well as I figure things out along the way.
can I ask what platform you are playing this on? I was playing Persona 4 Golden quite recently (I got the game on steam, set to japanese as the game language for text and voice) and I don’t remember the animation scenes being dubbed into English at all, pretty sure it was japanese voice & text for those too I need to get back to playing it so I’ll maybe check when I have time this week just in case my memory is being really bad (always possible)
Thanks for trying to answer the question. Honestly, if someone asked me this question about English or Swedish literature, I’d be like… Hmmm… well, maybe it is all classics, but also probably not. Seems to be scholars like to decide that kinda thing, but also historically there might be a lot of elitism and the author being the right kinda person, so… Hard to answer?
Or my answer would be: whatever I was forced to read in school.
Haha, made me remember when my dad bought me Silmarillion in Swedish translation (when I was a teen) because I’m into those fantasy books. And I’m like… Translation… Also, Silmarillion… :face_palm:
If I’m generous, the booklets cover about 70 pages, so yeah… I wonder if that means I’d like the longer original work, or if I liked the shorted to the point simplified tale. Maybe one day I will learn. :3
It’s very fairytale-y and I had to skim through a lot of it to remember the story. So wasn’t very memorable, maybe?
Funny, this was another one I had to flip through almost every page to even vaguely remember the story.
I hope you do. And I hope the original is as entertaining.
Read today’s folktale from Ibaraki Prefecture! About a kappa who accidentally scares some people because he likes looking at the clean water in the well at the back of their house. To apologise the kappa tells the house master how to make the secret kappa elixir.
And listened to today’s Edo tale. About udon noodles, and how people didn’t really know how to eat them properly. So they watch master-udon-muncher to see how it’s done, only problem is he sneezes halfway through the demonstration and the noodles pop out his nose. Everyone thinks this is proper udon-eatin-etiquette and attempt to copy him but can’t get the noodles to pop out their nose… so they jam them up their nostrils instead.
Because my listening comprehension is pretty bad I thought I’d try listening without reading. Even though it’s a short, simple story I could only pick out a few words and then by the time I’ve made a rough idea of what a sentence means it’s already on the next.
I listened again while reading along and suddenly everything makes so much sense, probably should focus a lot more on listening.
Japanese found in the tall grass
おかっぱ「お河童」ー Bobbed hair; bob cut. Kappa hair! 真弓「まゆみ」ー Japanese spindle tree 無理矢理「むりやり」ー Forcibly
Onomatopoeia ペタン ー The sound of something being lightly pressed