How helpful is Sanzang?

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How helpful is Sanzang?

Postby Will » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:21 pm

Not very clear what this program does; anyone familiar with how it works and does it really help in translating from Classical Chinese?

http://www.lapislazulitexts.com/sanzang
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: How helpful is Sanzang?

Postby cdpatton » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:52 am

Will wrote:Not very clear what this program does; anyone familiar with how it works and does it really help in translating from Classical Chinese?

http://www.lapislazulitexts.com/sanzang


I had actually had the idea of someone creating a parsing software like this years ago - it is basically just taking Chinese, comparing it against a table telling it what the English would be for the Chinese - and then spitting out English. It would only be good as a very-rough-draft - I am not sure how one would try to use software to infer all of the English grammar that Chinese lacks and is understood by a translator (and differently in some cases from one to the next). It certainly would be an asset to me as a translator to have software that would spot all of the transliterations or other technical terms - the ordinary Chinese would not be so important.

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Re: How helpful is Sanzang?

Postby Huifeng » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:25 am

Sounds a lot like the DDBAccess software from Christian Wittern (?). It takes the Chinese text, parses it all out, then automatically looks up the DDB, giving a basic English term for each character or simple compound.

Really only useful for people who simply do not have any clue whatsoever. The idea of simply plugging in given terms into a passage is a terrible way to, ahem, "translate", <cough cough>. One would have to identify a genre of literature, the translator too, time period, and so forth, to start getting to specific meanings in context.

As it has been said: Words do not have meaning, sentences have meaning. Or rather, sentences within paragraphs, within whole texts, etc.

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Re: How helpful is Sanzang?

Postby vinodh » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:19 am

Will wrote:Not very clear what this program does; anyone familiar with how it works and does it really help in translating from Classical Chinese?

http://www.lapislazulitexts.com/sanzang


Thanks for this.

It would be quite useful to get a sense of what the text is about.

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yo dharmaṁ paśyati, sa buddhaṁ paśyati

One who sees the Dharma, sees the Buddha
śālistamba sūtra

na pudgalo na ca skandhā buddho jñānamanāsravam
sadāśāntiṁ vibhāvitvā gacchāmi śaraṇaṁ hyaham

Neither a person nor the aggregates, the Buddha, is knowledge free from [evil] outflows
Clearly perceiving [him] to be eternally serene, I go for refuge [in him]
saddharma-laṅkāvatāra-sūtra
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Re: How helpful is Sanzang?

Postby longjie » Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:37 pm

Huifeng wrote:Sounds a lot like the DDBAccess software from Christian Wittern (?). It takes the Chinese text, parses it all out, then automatically looks up the DDB, giving a basic English term for each character or simple compound.

Really only useful for people who simply do not have any clue whatsoever. The idea of simply plugging in given terms into a passage is a terrible way to, ahem, "translate", <cough cough>. One would have to identify a genre of literature, the translator too, time period, and so forth, to start getting to specific meanings in context.

As it has been said: Words do not have meaning, sentences have meaning. Or rather, sentences within paragraphs, within whole texts, etc.

~~ Huifeng

Not quite. DDB Access does something very specific. It's proprietary Windows software that allows the user to interactively examine dictionary definitions for Chinese Buddhist terms according to definitions made by the people who contribute to DDB. It has a very narrow goal and expected usage. The user sits behind a computer monitor, logs in with his/her DDB login, and moves the mouse cursor over some term in the text that was pasted in.

Sanzang is a cross-platform command line utility that implements a translation algorithm. It's useful for East Asian languages such as (but not limited to!) Chinese. The idea is that the program reads a "translation table" of equivalent terms or phrases, and translates them accordingly in the text. It can also reformat texts according to their punctuation, which is generally a good idea before attempting to translate them (so words and phrases are not broken up between lines).

When I made Sanzang, I thought that dictionary programs were useful, but I disliked the user interfaces, lookup methods, output formats, etc. Interactive dictionary programs are usually rather complex, rigid, and tedious to use. Everything I've done with Sanzang is to get away from that way of doing things, to give control back to the user, and to generate succinct and helpful output.

For example, Huifeng, suppose you want to make a special translation table just for Lokaksema's vocabulary, that goes from Chinese into Gandhari, Sanskrit, and English. Dictionary programs like DDB Access cannot do that. However, Sanzang has the potential to do that easily. And when you've finished with your "Lokaksema table," you could easily share it with your colleagues as well (a translation table is just a plain text file). That's the whole idea: simple, clean, and flexible.

cdpatton wrote:It would only be good as a very-rough-draft - I am not sure how one would try to use software to infer all of the English grammar that Chinese lacks and is understood by a translator (and differently in some cases from one to the next). It certainly would be an asset to me as a translator to have software that would spot all of the transliterations or other technical terms - the ordinary Chinese would not be so important.

Exactly, its output tends to be rather rough and literal. For the grammar, equivalent terms are given for each part of a sentence, but terms are not shuffled around or reordered within the sentence.

vinodh wrote:It would be quite useful to get a sense of what the text is about.

Right, I agree. In my experience, it helps bridge the gap, and it can make reading texts faster and easier.
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Re: How helpful is Sanzang?

Postby Huifeng » Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:22 am

Thank you, that sounds much more useful and helpful. :twothumbsup:

~~ Huifeng
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