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人生に生き甲斐を求めてギターを習い始めた。 I started learning guitar to give myself something to do with my life.

Is this translation a little too loose? Can 求める mean give? Or would another way of translating this sentence would be: I wanted more out of my life, so I began to learn the guitar. or I wanted something to do with my life, so I began to learn the guitar.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The kanji character 求 {もと.め} is always used for when requesting or wishing for something as an input and not for giving something as an output, although when loosely translated into English some phrases can look as if they are about giving something. For example, 求人口 which is translated as "job vacancy" seems like it's giving job opportunity to job seekers, but actually 求人 which is derived from 求人者 refers to job seeker thus the kanji 求 contributes the nuance of "wishing for job" in that word (while 口 which means "mouth" is giving the nuance of "opening"). So 求人口 is not about giving out jobs, but it's about openings for those people looking for jobs.

I would translate 人生に生き甲斐を求めてギターを習い始めた as follows:

Seeking/Wishing for a purpose in life, I started learning guitar.

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