Question about how to translate sutras

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Question about how to translate sutras

Postby Nosta » Fri Mar 29, 2013 4:43 pm

I am almost finishing my translation to portuguese (from the english version) of the Pratyutpanna Sutra. Now I am reviewing it but I am not sure what to do about certain words.

For example: " At one time the Bhagavān was in the Karaṇḍa Bamboo Garden." Should I replace the "Bhagavan" word for its meaning ("World Honored One") or let it there? I think that replacing the word would avoid the use of a Buddhism Glossary, specially to the people not used to buddhism terms.

The same question goes for other words, like "asura" (demigods for all the purposes) and the like. Even so, some words one should avoid translation I think, like "Bodhisattva", since the whole word itself is filled with a deep meaning.

Whats your opinion on these questions?

Thank you a lot.
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Re: Question about how to translate sutras

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 29, 2013 4:56 pm

Keep the Buddhist Indic terms as much as possible because there are multiple versions of the same lexical items and hence people are more confused.

Asura, titan, goblin, demon, etc... I mean just keep the Indic term. In time readers will figure it out or, failing that, look it up in an instant online.
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Re: Question about how to translate sutras

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:07 pm

Keep the original words that do not easily translate, and offer a glossary or footnotes.
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Re: Question about how to translate sutras

Postby Nosta » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:58 pm

Thank you both.

I think I will do as you said.

A glossary in the end is a good idea.
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Re: Question about how to translate sutras

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Mar 29, 2013 6:34 pm

Keep the originals and offer detailed footnotes. That's what I do for Greek translations. Sometimes it is even better to leave the English transliteration, like the term Bhagavan, (I imagine you are translating from English?) and give a transliteration into Portugese in the footnotes. That way if somebody wishes to look for terms/texts in English (I imagine many Portugese are fluent in English too) it will make it easier for them to find them on the internet.
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Re: Question about how to translate sutras

Postby Konchog1 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:01 pm

As others have said, footnotes. But please put footnotes longer than a sentence in the back of the book. I've struggled through translations with most of the page taken up by footnotes.
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Re: Question about how to translate sutras

Postby Nosta » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:23 pm

Greg and Konchog, thanks for your useful tips.

Many portuguese - specially young adults - dominate the english language.

Instead of long footnotes I think I will choose instead some quick translations between [ ], so people can catch the meaning of the word and keep reading and understanding the text. For example, in a sentence where it reads "... well as gods, dragons, asuras, yakṣas, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas." I would add this: "...well as gods, dragons, asuras, yakṣas, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas [celestial and/or demonic beeings]." Then, if someone wishes to get a deep knowledge on such beings, he or she can go to the internet and seek specific explanations.

My only doubt know is: should I translate bhiksus or upasakas, since their meaning is just about the same as monks and laymen?
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Re: Question about how to translate sutras

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:45 pm

Nosta wrote:Greg and Konchog, thanks for your useful tips.

Many portuguese - specially young adults - dominate the english language.

Instead of long footnotes I think I will choose instead some quick translations between [ ], so people can catch the meaning of the word and keep reading and understanding the text. For example, in a sentence where it reads "... well as gods, dragons, asuras, yakṣas, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas." I would add this: "...well as gods, dragons, asuras, yakṣas, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas [celestial and/or demonic beeings]." Then, if someone wishes to get a deep knowledge on such beings, he or she can go to the internet and seek specific explanations.

My only doubt know is: should I translate bhiksus or upasakas, since their meaning is just about the same as monks and laymen?
Again, I would use footnotes the first time for the term and then leave it untranslated.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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