Schools for Aspiring Translators

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Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Will » Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:37 pm

Hopefully this thread can become a sticky after enough Dharma languages are covered.

So will those who have some competence in Buddhist Sanskrit, classical Chinese, Japanese, Khotanese, Tibetan etc.; (in any language of the Dhamma/Dharma), kindly give recommendations for good schools (formal or informal) by which one may become a translator of sutras & shastras.
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: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Paul » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:37 pm

I'm not a translator, but I do know that Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche's shedra regularly produces excellent translator-scholars.

http://www.shedra.org/
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"Do not block your six senses; delight in them with joy and ease.
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With such a confidence, empowered by the regal state of natural mind,
The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:39 am

For Tibetan you might consider these two institutions...

Rangjung Yeshe Institute

http://www.shedra.org/


International Buddhist Academy

http://sakyaiba.edu.np/tibetan-language/


The latter is a lot cheaper than the former.


For Chinese (if you want to study in English), there is...

Foguang University

http://www.fgu.edu.tw/newpage/fgupageen ... /index.php

Besides taking classes in Classical Chinese in a ordinary university wherever you are, I can't think of anywhere else you could study the subject in English.

If you know Japanese or Mandarin (possibly Korean), there are dozens of institutions where you could study under a Buddhist Studies specialist.
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Malcolm » Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:10 am

There is only one way to be a text translator. Just do it.

First read a lot of books for five years and learn Dharma. Then learn source language. Meanwhile practice as much as you can.

Then, having learned the souce language's grammar, practice in that langauge and translate the shit out of texts for 6-10 years before you even produce something worthwhile. Spend the next ten years polishing your craft. Minimum 60 hours a week working on translations. Read books the rest of the time, when you are not practicing. Do not, under any circumstances, join a Buddhist studies program and so on. Do not expect to make a living. Expect to be poor for many years.

If you want to translate, learn the grammer, start translating and ask qualified people to look at your stuff -- oh and study Abhidharma first.

If you are a poor writer in English, either improve your English skills or abandon hope because your translations will always be hopeless garabage even if you have understood the texts. There is so much hopeless garbage out there it seems we will never dig our way out of it.

Having the blessings of your guru helps.

Many days I generally work from 8 am to around 9 pm, usually without much of a break. I don't do it to get paid, I do it because I love it. For example, this morning i began at 7 am. It is 10 pm. I am still working.

Also remember, if you are happy with your translation, it probably sucks.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:31 am

Yeah ... what Namdrol said. :sage:

Having an extensive knowledge of basic Buddhism as well as the history of whatever cultural development of Buddhism you want to translate is essential.

Ideally, as Namdrol said, you read for many years, and then start acquiring the grammar and vocabulary of the language you are to study.

In the case of canonical languages it takes a lot of time to get acquainted with everything (like modern languages, too, but you can't rely on too many individuals to tell you what X means in a dead language). In East Asian Buddhism for example you have vocabulary specific to general Buddhist doctrine and then the lexicon of Chan literature which is a whole other type of literature. You can't read the latter with only knowing the former. Also the meaning of some terms can differ from author to author, time period to time period. For example, the literature of the Song Dynasty is often quite different from what you find in the Tang. I imagine this might be the case in Tibetan as well.
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Will » Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:37 am

Why avoid Buddhist studies' programs N. ?
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: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Malcolm » Fri Feb 03, 2012 4:42 am

Will wrote:Why avoid Buddhist studies' programs N. ?



Because they mostly fill one with bias, and give one false sense of accomplishment.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Will » Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:06 am

Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote:Why avoid Buddhist studies' programs N. ?



Because they mostly fill one with bias, and give one false sense of accomplishment.


But is the Dharma language learning part (which I thought was mandatory) so terrible?
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: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby zerwe » Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:15 am

FPMT has the Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Programme includes two years of classroom study in Dharamsala
and two years serving as translator to a resident Geshe in centers worldwide. I will put this out there for Namdrol
that, although FPMT are Gelug, I have encountered nothing but a very open non-sectarian style of presenting the Dharma in my 2+ years as a
practitioner within this organization. I am sure others might have a different view, but that is my two cents.
Shaun :namaste:
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Huifeng » Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:37 am

Great post from Namdrol-la, above!

One thing to add: abandon all hope, yea who enter here!

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:43 am

zerwe wrote:FPMT has the Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Programme includes two years of classroom study in Dharamsala
and two years serving as translator to a resident Geshe in centers worldwide. I will put this out there for Namdrol
that, although FPMT are Gelug, I have encountered nothing but a very open non-sectarian style of presenting the Dharma in my 2+ years as a
practitioner within this organization. I am sure others might have a different view, but that is my two cents.
Shaun :namaste:


As everyone is aware, interpreting and translation are two different endeavours.

I think translating classical texts is a lot more difficult than learning to interpret a teacher's words for a live audience. If you need clarification, you can get it right away. With classical texts of bygone eras you have to rely on other means for clarification.

In the case of Chinese, spoken Chinese and literary Chinese are two completely different languages. Korean and Japanese scholars might not speak a word of Mandarin, but can still read and understand literary Chinese.
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby MrDistracted » Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:00 am

Namdrol wrote:-- oh and study Abhidharma first.



N



Hi Namdrol. Am I right in thinking you provide an abhidharma study course? If so could you post a link? Thanks.
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Malcolm » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:08 pm

zerwe wrote:FPMT has the Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Programme includes two years of classroom study in Dharamsala
and two years serving as translator to a resident Geshe in centers worldwide. I will put this out there for Namdrol
that, although FPMT are Gelug, I have encountered nothing but a very open non-sectarian style of presenting the Dharma in my 2+ years as a
practitioner within this organization. I am sure others might have a different view, but that is my two cents.
Shaun :namaste:



By bias I don't mean sectarian, I mean that one will be conditioned by a given school's way of presenting things. There is a difference between bias and sectaranism. To be a good translator, you have to be familiar with all kinds of things and scholastic bias causes one to have blinders.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Malcolm » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:12 pm

Will wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote:Why avoid Buddhist studies' programs N. ?



Because they mostly fill one with bias, and give one false sense of accomplishment.


But is the Dharma language learning part (which I thought was mandatory) so terrible?


In most Academic Buddhist studies programs, you are being trained to be teacher not a translator.

In the non-Academic ones, you are being trained to propagate a lineage.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Huifeng » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:18 pm

Huseng wrote:In the case of Chinese, spoken Chinese and literary Chinese are two completely different languages.


Somewhat different - yes. Completely different - no, at least not in a Buddhist teaching context.

In particular, when it comes to oral interpreting for a large number of Dharma teachers in Chinese traditions, they use a huge amount of expressions and phrases straight out of sutra, sastra and vinaya, classical Chinese Buddhist works, etc. In fact, some teachers speak just strings of such phrases hung together with a few basic words or sentences from Mandarin, or even just other sutra-type phrases.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Huifeng » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:22 pm

Will wrote:Hopefully this thread can become a sticky after enough Dharma languages are covered.

So will those who have some competence in Buddhist Sanskrit, classical Chinese, Japanese, Khotanese, Tibetan etc.; (in any language of the Dhamma/Dharma), kindly give recommendations for good schools (formal or informal) by which one may become a translator of sutras & shastras.


To be honest, Will, very few places if any teach people to be translators of sutra and sastra. The numbers of people who can really do this are few, and so they usually teach more basic things. Those that can really excel at the basics may then progress, etc. and some can go into translation, but largely in non-structured learning formats.

Having said that, however, it is somewhat interesting - well, to me anyway! - that a number of classes in say Sanskrit, or whatever canonical languages, are in effect classes in translation. This has been my own experience in Sanskrit and Pali classes at least. But, maybe the teachers I encounter just tend to be like this, because this is my own direction. Birds of a feather, and all that.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:29 pm

Huifeng wrote:To be honest, Will, very few places if any teach people to be translators of sutra and sastra.


In the English speaking world at least.

As you know, here in Asia plenty of colleges and universities (mainly Buddhist I guess) teach how to translate classical Buddhist texts.

I think for most people though it comes down to wanting to do it, and going ahead and doing it.

Not only translation skills, but it takes time to acquire your tool kit, too. What dictionaries to use, what reference works to make use of, etc...

The way I studied Classical Chinese was pretty much bringing my books to a cafe, drinking a lot of coffee and deciphering every part of the text until I could read it understanding everything.

If you can make a hobby out of it, it'll be enjoyable and something you'll do on the bus, in a cafe or in your spare time (or at work when the boss ain't watching).
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Mr. G » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:00 pm

MrDistracted wrote:
Namdrol wrote:-- oh and study Abhidharma first.



N



Hi Namdrol. Am I right in thinking you provide an abhidharma study course? If so could you post a link? Thanks.


The threads are here:

Abhidharma 1: Samsara And Its Causes - Acharya Malcolm Smith
Shedra 2011 - Abhidharma 2: Karma and Affliction

The links are dead (edit: just corrected in the original threads).

BTW, it's an awesome course. I can't say enough good things about it.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby Malcolm » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:11 pm

http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Schools for Aspiring Translators

Postby MrDistracted » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:26 pm

Thanks.
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