Choosing A Buddhist Language

Casual conversation between friends. Anything goes (almost).
User avatar
The Cicada
Posts: 514
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2016 5:15 am
Location: Trumpaloka

Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by The Cicada » Tue May 09, 2017 7:44 pm

I'm a Nichiren Buddhist and would like to learn a language through self-study to gain a better understanding of my practice. The obvious choice for this lineage would seem to be Japanese, though the thought of learning Sanskrit has always appealed to me. Ideally I would like to learn both, but my time and resources are limited.

The benefit of learning Sanskrit would be that the language is Indo-European, (thus similar to the languages I'm familiar with,) is highly refined and logical and would give me insight into many texts at least tangentially related to my chosen Buddhist tradition. The downside would be that much of that literature would not likely be directly related to my tradition.

The benefit of Japanese would seem to be that any works relevant to my tradition likely have been translated into that language. The downside is that the language seems inscrutably foreign and I would have no native speakers available to assist me in my endeavor.

What would the forum suggest?

DGA
Former staff member
Posts: 8692
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by DGA » Tue May 09, 2017 8:57 pm

Do you want to learn Japanese in order to study original texts, such as Nichiren's writings, or to communicate with contemporary Buddhists in your tradition?

I can say that learning contemporary Japanese is much, much easier than Sanskrit. Just compare the verb charts and you can see what I mean. The noun declensions in Sanskrit are really something to behold. And there are many more resources available for conversational Japanese study than for independent Buddhist Sanskrit study.

But what really matters is your objective. What do you want to do? That will determine what path to take.

User avatar
The Cicada
Posts: 514
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2016 5:15 am
Location: Trumpaloka

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by The Cicada » Wed May 10, 2017 12:36 am

DGA wrote:Do you want to learn Japanese in order to study original texts, such as Nichiren's writings, or to communicate with contemporary Buddhists in your tradition?

I can say that learning contemporary Japanese is much, much easier than Sanskrit. Just compare the verb charts and you can see what I mean. The noun declensions in Sanskrit are really something to behold. And there are many more resources available for conversational Japanese study than for independent Buddhist Sanskrit study.

But what really matters is your objective. What do you want to do? That will determine what path to take.
My goal would be to have access to Buddhist knowledge written in the chosen language. Like I said, I don't have access to any native speakers to help me pick up on how the language is spoken, nor is it likely that I will in the near future, and I'm not a fan of modern Japanese popular culture like anime or J-Pop. There are lots of resources for learning Sanskrit online, but I would assume that the majority of information relevant to the Nichiren Buddhist tradition and those that it draws upon would be available in Japanese. Would you say it's true that any source texts or commentaries relevant to Mahayana Buddhism as a whole would exist in Japanese; that anything I would want to read in Sanskrit would already exist as a Japanese translation?

If not, I might as well take up Sanskrit. If I take up Japanese, I probably wouldn't be able to master it conversationally, though if I can gain more knowledge relevant to my practice by studying the language, it would still be a worthwhile endeavor. The question is which language encompasses more relevant information about Buddhism in writing.

User avatar
Admin_PC
Site Admin
Posts: 3897
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by Admin_PC » Wed May 10, 2017 4:38 am

There are a lot of academic Buddhist texts in Japanese. Mueller had Japanese Sanskrit students (like Nanjo Bunyu) back in the 1800s, you can read about some of it here - so sanskrit translations into Japanese probably exist. You can also find a number of translations from the classical Chinese of the Taisho canon into vernacular Japanese.

The only thing I would say about Japanese is that you would probably have an easier time studying classical Chinese - there's no grammar, which is a huge difference when it comes to Japanese. You would have to study a certain amount of classical Chinese (or Japanese simplified Chinese) just to be able to read any Japanese works.

In terms of pure speed of studying a language and being able to read it, Sanskrit would probably be faster and easier. That being said, there aren't Sanskrit copies of all texts (or even sutras) - especially texts that are important in East Asian Mahayana.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

MiphamFan
Posts: 725
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 5:46 am

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by MiphamFan » Wed May 10, 2017 4:49 am

IME, despite a lot of Buddhist texts being available in Japanese, it is much, much more difficult to get digital versions of those compared to other languages. Japanese academia and publishing is still lagging behind the world in the digitization front IMO. You need to order texts from Japan if you really want to read stuff in Japanese.

User avatar
Ayu
Former staff member
Posts: 6748
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by Ayu » Wed May 10, 2017 6:50 am

The Cicada wrote:... The downside is that the language seems inscrutably foreign and I would have no native speakers available to assist me in my endeavor.
...
I have no idea, if Japanese is more difficult than Sanskrit. But when you learn any language, it will slowly cease to be foreign. And: Although Sanskrit is a touching basic language (oldest base of our languages), you won't be able to find anybody speaking it. Sanskrit is not spoken at all.
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

emaho
Posts: 786
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 8:33 pm

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by emaho » Wed May 10, 2017 7:23 am

The Cicada wrote:The benefit of learning Sanskrit would be that the language is Indo-European, (thus similar to the languages I'm familiar with,) is highly refined and logical ...
I think this is a factor you shouldn't underestimate. I've started learning classical Tibetan years ago and my knowledge is still... mediocre at best. In my defense I have to say that my initial goal was to learn enough Tibetan so that when reading a translated text and wondering about the meaning of a passage, I could pick up the original text and, with the help of a dictionary, find out what actually stands there. So I've never had the goal of becoming a translator or expert anyway. And I've also never had the opportunity of studying fulltime. But boy, do I wish I would have learned Sanskrit instead. I've had tons of Latin and Greek at school, and studied lots of formal logic later at university - with that base learning Sanskrit would still not have been a piece of cake, but with its logical structure and a Grammar most similar to that of Ancient Greek Sanskrit would have been so much easier for me. It would have actually been possible for me to really master that language.
"Do yourself a favor and get out of Samsara!" Dudjom Rinpoche, Counsels From My Heart

User avatar
rory
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 8:08 am
Location: SouthEast USA

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by rory » Wed May 10, 2017 9:57 pm

For Nichiren Buddhism, Japanese is key, there are plenty of online sites for pen friends so you can Skype with a student for free and speak properly. It's different but it's grammar isn't terribly hard. The work entailed is learning characters. So start now and add slowly.

Sanskrit is no help for Lotus Sutra schools as the founder of Tiantai/Tendai Zhiyi came from China so learn Classical Chinese.


FYI: Sanskrit has been revived as a spoken language. I know a fellow, a Rhodes scholar who speaks it and writes Sanskrit poetry.
http://www.thebetterindia.com/65046/san ... karnataka/
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

User avatar
Admin_PC
Site Admin
Posts: 3897
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by Admin_PC » Wed May 10, 2017 11:28 pm

FYI - Japanese is rated one of the 4 most difficult languages to learn for English speakers by the Foreign Language Institute of the US State Department (with an asterisk implying it is the most difficult of those 4). This is in large part due to the fact that it has incredibly difficult grammar and utilizes 3 separate "alphabets" (one of which is a slightly simplified form of Chinese). I've been studying it off and on for 24 years (much of that time formally). Believe me when I say you'll get more bang for your buck by just studying Chinese characters (and classical Chinese) directly, which you would need for reading Japanese at a high level anyway.

You might find these threads helpful for Chinese resources:
https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?t=6829
https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?t=15565
https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?t=18225
https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?t=14943

If you put in the hours getting a firm grasp on Chinese characters you'll be able to dive right into the entire Taisho canon, with all the traditional commentaries:
http://21dzk.l.u-tokyo.ac.jp/SAT/ddb-bd ... hp?lang=en
http://www.cbeta.org/en
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

User avatar
rory
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 8:08 am
Location: SouthEast USA

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by rory » Thu May 11, 2017 1:13 am

AdminPC ; I agree about the usefulness of Classical Chinese, one way or another you're learning it.

about Japanese, it's 'difficulty' depends on how good you are at languages. If you've had Latin and ancient Greek (not included in the foreign service list), the grammar is fine, even less complex and very regular. Hey no accents to write like in ancient Greek!
It's easy to pronounce for English speakers too, no difficult vowels, no dipthongs, no tones.

The difficulty is the written language. Japanese uses Chinese characters with 2 pronunciations, Kanji, and two phonetic alphabet Is: Hiragana and Katakana.
Hiragana and Katakana are simple if you're used to different phonetic alphabets: Russian, Greek etc (Hey I learned Hebrew).

So Kanji is what he'd need and whether you learn it via Classical Chinese or Japanese you're going to need to learn it.

I can see why the Cicada prefers Sanskrit, you've already tons of vocabulary and with Chinese/Japanese you're starting from scratch, but start now and you'll get there
good luck
gassho
Rory
ps I had 1 summer of Japanese at uni and now I'm back at learning it. Toiling away;-)
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

User avatar
Admin_PC
Site Admin
Posts: 3897
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by Admin_PC » Thu May 11, 2017 1:25 am

"about Japanese, it's 'difficulty' depends on how good you are at languages. If you've had Latin and ancient Greek (not included in the foreign service list), the grammar is fine, even less complex and very regular."

No offense, but only someone who hasn't gotten very far into the language would say this. There are literally 3 separate 600+ page books from Seiichi Makino on the subtleties of Japanese grammar (total just shy of 2100 pages). For comparison, the definitive Latin grammar book is 388 pages and Herbert Weir Smyth's definitive book on Ancient Greek Grammar clocks in between 740 and 800 pages, depending on edition. I did 2 years in high school while living in Japan, 3 years in college, and probably about a decade of Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)-oriented coursework outside of that, not to mention another decade or so of private tutors. Even people who have passed the highest level of the JLPT (1) do not conduct business or do technical writing in Japanese. It is rated by the State Department and the CIA as one of the most difficult languages for a reason.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

User avatar
dzogchungpa
Posts: 5523
Joined: Sat May 28, 2011 10:50 pm

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by dzogchungpa » Thu May 11, 2017 2:49 am

Admin_PC wrote:There are literally 3 separate 600+ page books from Seiichi Makino on the subtleties of Japanese grammar (total just shy of 2100 pages). For comparison, the definitive Latin grammar book is 388 pages and Herbert Weir Smyth's definitive book on Ancient Greek Grammar clocks in between 740 and 800 pages, depending on edition.
I'm sure you are right about the difficulty of Japanese grammar, but I'm not sure the page count approach to grammatical difficulty is really valid. For example, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language is 1860 very large pages. Does that mean that English has a more complex grammar than Ancient Greek? I don't know but I would hesitate to say so just on that basis.
It takes a great being to be daring enough to cultivate a bad reputation. - Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

User avatar
Admin_PC
Site Admin
Posts: 3897
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by Admin_PC » Thu May 11, 2017 3:24 am

dzogchungpa wrote:I'm sure you are right about the difficulty of Japanese grammar, but I'm not sure the page count approach to grammatical difficulty is really valid. For example, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language is 1860 very large pages. Does that mean that English has a more complex grammar than Ancient Greek? I don't know but I would hesitate to say so just on that basis.
It may be a faulty metric, but no moreso faulty than someone with a single semester of a language pronouncing its simplicity in the face of official organizations who have formally declared its complexity. That being said, English is notoriously difficult due to special cases and its propensity for not following established rules - simpler morphology than ancient languages, but more complex elsewhere.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

User avatar
rory
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 8:08 am
Location: SouthEast USA

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by rory » Thu May 11, 2017 4:28 am

I really don't want to get into an argument.

So instead I asked Indrajala to come over: he's just finished his dissertation in East Asian Studies; knows, speaks Japanese, Chinese, modern & classical and is a translator and is familiar with Sanskrit. He'll be able to give Cicada the best advice.

FYI I asked him for it concerning both Japanese and Classical Chinese as I have to study and he's been very helpful.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

User avatar
Indrajala
Posts: 6316
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by Indrajala » Thu May 11, 2017 12:08 pm

The Cicada wrote: The benefit of Japanese would seem to be that any works relevant to my tradition likely have been translated into that language. The downside is that the language seems inscrutably foreign and I would have no native speakers available to assist me in my endeavor.
You can always sign up for online lessons via Skype and have access to native speakers whenever you need.

Learning to read Japanese is another matter from speaking it. As you know, there are also various levels of Japanese according to whom you are addressing, but this is less of an issue once you get accustomed to it.

If you were interested in reading modern discussions of Buddhism, then literacy in academic Japanese would be ideal. You can gain this through intense study of the grammar, kanji and so forth, but it is no minor undertaking. You need to commit a few hours every single day for at least two to three years. The study of kanji is also another obstacle. It can be done if you set yourself to it, but if you've never studied a foreign language before, then I suggest taking some classes (even online with a tutor would be good).

Sanskrit can also be self-taught. Buddhist literature in Sanskrit generally uses relatively simple grammatical forms, in contrast to Vedic and literary Classical Sanskrit, in which the grammar is much more varied. Buddhist Sanskrit is a lot more straightforward and "technical", especially the śāstras. If you can learn Latin, then you can learn basic Buddhist Sanskrit, though again this requires intense study over a period of time. There is this book that is available:

Reading Buddhist Sanskrit Texts: An Elementary Grammatical Guide by Dhammajoti (Kuala Lumpur ).

No offense, but only someone who hasn't gotten very far into the language would say this. There are literally 3 separate 600+ page books from Seiichi Makino on the subtleties of Japanese grammar (total just shy of 2100 pages). For comparison, the definitive Latin grammar book is 388 pages and Herbert Weir Smyth's definitive book on Ancient Greek Grammar clocks in between 740 and 800 pages, depending on edition. I did 2 years in high school while living in Japan, 3 years in college, and probably about a decade of Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)-oriented coursework outside of that, not to mention another decade or so of private tutors. Even people who have passed the highest level of the JLPT (1) do not conduct business or do technical writing in Japanese. It is rated by the State Department and the CIA as one of the most difficult languages for a reason.
Basic spoken Japanese is relatively simple compared to European languages (no case, nor gender, and preposition use is quite straightforward). However, there are a lot of nuances in both formal and informal contexts that linguists can spend a career documenting. That being said, again, the common usage of Japanese even in an academic setting is pretty straightforward. I personally have just emulated the forms used by colleagues. I can write academic Japanese (I need an editor of course), too, which can, and usually does, use standard forms (である etc) unless the author is attempting something more "polished" sounding.

http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/120005703462

Even people who have passed the highest level of the JLPT (1) do not conduct business or do technical writing in Japanese.
Funny thing about that exam is that it doesn't actually prepare you to use the language. It is a test to test whether you've studied enough. I've met some people who passed that exam, but can't really use the language. I've personally never taken the test and I might even fail it if I didn't study for it, since it is a test for the sake of testing. I read A LOT of Japanese regularly (academic articles mostly, some rather old too), and if I don't quite understand a grammatical form, I can still infer the meaning based on the context as a whole. However, if you isolated that component and tested me on it without the context, I'd probably give the wrong answer.

FYI I asked him for it concerning both Japanese and Classical Chinese as I have to study and he's been very helpful.
If you want to learn Classical Chinese, you should first read modern Japanese or Chinese. In the case of the former, Japanese read Cl. Chinese as kanbun 漢文, in which they reconfigure the Chinese into a Japanese word order and then turn it into Classical Japanese, from which they then translate it into modern Japanese. This is a very confusing process for non-native speakers and arguably is misleading at times, but that's how they do it in Japan. Still, if you read enough kanji, then you can start reading Cl. Chinese with a translation on hand. If you do that long enough and acquire basic understanding of Buddhist terminology, then reading most Buddhist literature won't be an issue.

In my case, I read both modern Mandarin and Japanese. I read Cl. Chinese as Chinese, but I've been doing it for over ten years now. I can read Cl. Chinese quite rapidly, especially if it is a Buddhist text.

Gaining full literacy in all these languages is probably only something you can expect of a full-time academic to be honest. If you're simply interested in Japanese Buddhism, then just learn modern Japanese and start reading simple modern writings on Buddhism. You don't need to try to read Buddhist scriptures, but rather read modern Japanese translations and ease yourself into them.
tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog) Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog) Dharma Depository (Site)

User avatar
Admin_PC
Site Admin
Posts: 3897
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by Admin_PC » Thu May 11, 2017 1:27 pm

Indrajala wrote:Basic spoken Japanese is relatively simple compared to European languages (no case, nor gender, and preposition use is quite straightforward).
There are at least 8 different case markers for nouns in Japanese (English has 3 cases) and while "wa" and "ga" may be almost identical (both technically nominative case), entire books have been written on the differences & nuances... Preposition use is almost non-existent for native speakers and is a clear indicator of someone new to the language. Levels of formality replace gender [EDIT: Actually, it's probably verb class that can more accurately be said to replace verb gender], and I believe only Korean has more levels of formality. There really is no universal "basic spoken Japanese" that is appropriate for all situations for native speakers, allowances are typically made for foreigners - but that's not how the language works natively. ~ます form will get you in trouble in a number of circumstances.
Indrajala wrote:That being said, again, the common usage of Japanese even in an academic setting is pretty straightforward.
I would agree that Japanese used in academic works takes a standard tone.
Indrajala wrote:
Even people who have passed the highest level of the JLPT (1) do not conduct business or do technical writing in Japanese.
Funny thing about that exam is that it doesn't actually prepare you to use the language. It is a test to test whether you've studied enough. I've met some people who passed that exam, but can't really use the language. I've personally never taken the test and I might even fail it if I didn't study for it, since it is a test for the sake of testing.
It used to be the language exam for foreigners attempting to enter Japanese universities. These days JLPT N1 (or at the very least N2) is a standard requirement for getting a job in Japan (regardless of the field). Japanese middle schoolers I've met have had no problem with the exam. The "Kanten" would be the exam more accurately called "a test for the sake of testing". Non-natives conducting business in Japanese is still extremely rare, even among those with Business Japanese Test (BJT) certification and/or extensive time living in the country and functioning in day-to-day life with the language.
Indrajala wrote:If you want to learn Classical Chinese, you should first read modern Japanese or Chinese. In the case of the former, Japanese read Cl. Chinese as kanbun 漢文, in which they reconfigure the Chinese into a Japanese word order and then turn it into Classical Japanese, from which they then translate it into modern Japanese. This is a very confusing process for non-native speakers and arguably is misleading at times, but that's how they do it in Japan. Still, if you read enough kanji, then you can start reading Cl. Chinese with a translation on hand. If you do that long enough and acquire basic understanding of Buddhist terminology, then reading most Buddhist literature won't be an issue.
I've spent quite a bit of time with the Taisho myself and wouldn't recommend the "Japanese approach" you give. Since reading is the goal & not speaking or recitation, then it makes much more sense to memorize a few thousand Chinese characters (or at least radicals for constructing more complex characters) and study any nuances of Classical Chinese directly. Studying modern mandarin might be a decent stop gap if the jump to cl Chinese is too tough, but going the Japanese route would surely add layers and layers of complexity to an already significant undertaking. A good resource on the etymology of Chinese characters I think would really shine in this situation - like one of the following:
http://www.buddhism-dict.net/ddb/
http://www.chineseetymology.org
http://chinese-characters.org/
https://smile.amazon.com/Composition-Ch ... 730103329X
https://smile.amazon.com/Guide-Remember ... 0804820384
Indrajala wrote:Gaining full literacy in all these languages is probably only something you can expect of a full-time academic to be honest. If you're simply interested in Japanese Buddhism, then just learn modern Japanese and start reading simple modern writings on Buddhism. You don't need to try to read Buddhist scriptures, but rather read modern Japanese translations and ease yourself into them.
Simple modern Japanese writings on Buddhism are almost never free and often have multiple layers of interpretation affecting their presentation of the information. Don't get me wrong, I've gone this route too - I have a number of simple books, children's books, and even newsletters from Japanese Buddhist organizations. I guess I just put a higher value on primary source material. Also, depending on the tone of the work, they can stray quite far from the simple forms given in standard "Intro to Japanese" textbooks.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

User avatar
Indrajala
Posts: 6316
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by Indrajala » Thu May 11, 2017 3:18 pm

Admin_PC, I don't think learning Japanese is as difficult as you make it sound.

If someone just wants to read Japanese, then gaining literacy does not require learning keigo or even conversational Japanese (it is highly recommend that you gain some spoken Japanese, but it isn't necessary). A lot of people read French or German, but can't even introduce themselves in those languages. Plenty of academics learn to just read Japanese.

In my case, I studied Japanese at an undergrad level for two years and could read basic things with a dictionary. I then stayed in Japan for a year as an exchange student. At that point, I could read academic articles on topics related to Buddhism and the Humanities, slowly but accurately.

Two years later I entered the MA program at Komazawa University and could more or less function, albeit not optimally. I still could follow along with lectures and do all the readings. I passed the required language proficiency tests at the Japanese consulate. The interview went well too.

If you're a perfectionist, then yes, learning to speak perfect Japanese and navigate Japanese society, while being fully literate in all things, is no easy task and takes many years living in Japan, but this isn't necessary if you just want to read Japanese.

In any case, my personal suggestion would also don't try too hard. If you're obviously not Japanese, but speak fluently and clearly, and can comprehend what people say, and read whatever you need to read, then you'll be appreciated as a foreigner who has learnt Japanese, rather than a foreigner trying to become Japanese.
tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog) Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog) Dharma Depository (Site)

User avatar
Admin_PC
Site Admin
Posts: 3897
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by Admin_PC » Thu May 11, 2017 6:56 pm

Fair points. I still think grammar is quite a bit more difficult than is being presented, but the gist of a reading selection can usually be understood without an in-depth familiarity with what's going on grammatically.

Overall, good advice.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

User avatar
rory
Posts: 1346
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 8:08 am
Location: SouthEast USA

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by rory » Thu May 11, 2017 10:31 pm

thanks so much Indrajala for posting and helping us present and future Japanese and Classical Chinese language learners out!

I just want to share my textbook, Genki 1, everybody uses this textbook it's so good here is a link to the website with additional materials
http://genki.japantimes.co.jp/index_en

I have the workbook too.

For those who want lectures, there is MIT's free courseware:
https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/global-stud ... fall-2012/

and here is part 2: https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/global-stud ... ring-2013/
happy learning
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

User avatar
Admin_PC
Site Admin
Posts: 3897
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: Choosing A Buddhist Language

Post by Admin_PC » Thu May 11, 2017 11:29 pm

Here's some Japanese Buddhist sites if anyone wants to see what the language looks like in the context of Buddhist writing...

A small Tendai Blog:
http://otera.net/
And it's associated Temple:
http://otera.net/ensyuuin/

A collection of articles and blogs by various contributors from different schools:
http://www.higan.net/
Tendai blogger:
http://higan.net/apps/mt-phpincgi.php?_ ... /mt-cp.cgi
Nichiren Shu contributor:
http://higan.net/apps/mt-phpincgi.php?_ ... /mt-cp.cgi
Another Nichiren Shu contributor:
http://higan.net/apps/mt-phpincgi.php?_ ... /mt-cp.cgi

Some Nichiren Shoshu Blogs:
https://ameblo.jp/t-rex935/
https://ameblo.jp/niconico357/
https://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/no_sleep502goal
http://kennsyoukai.info/porigin-blog/

Some Nichiren Shu Blogs:
http://philosophy.blogmura.com/nichiren/
http://www.shushoji.jp/news/
https://ameblo.jp/kotujiki01/
https://ameblo.jp/gokokuji5594/
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: tiagolps and 37 guests