Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

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Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby lotwell » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:21 pm

Hi all!

I've been coming across a lot of texts with Tibetan followed by a transliteration followed by an English translation. These are mainly practice texts.

It is not wylie transliteration nor it does it seem to be the direct phonetic transliteration but a transliteration aimed at allowing the reader to approximate the sounds.

Are there any rules with this sort of transliteration? It seems like many sounds/letters are not directly equivalent to English (i.e. 'g' is pronounced 'k' or vice versa). Also the 'ö' like in Pema Chödrön. How is that pronounced?

Any help for this novice would be appreciated!

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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby gad rgyangs » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:48 pm

everybody and their mother have their own phonetic transliteration system, none of which are very good. easier to just learn how to pronounce tibetan.
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby lotwell » Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:48 am

Yes I understand. And indeed I am learning classical Tibetan. However, it is a process. In the meantime I would like to pronounced practice texts with some approximation.

What is the ö supposed to represent? Is it a certain tone?

Thanks : ) Deep bows,

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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby zerwe » Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:59 am

lotwell wrote:Yes I understand. And indeed I am learning classical Tibetan. However, it is a process. In the meantime I would like to pronounced practice texts with some approximation.

What is the ö supposed to represent? Is it a certain tone?

Thanks : ) Deep bows,

Lotwell


I think it is the same as the German o with an umlaut. Here even romanized approximation doesn't do any justice. "Oe" doesn't really = ö
So, I assume it is similar to "ö" in Schön.
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:54 pm

gad rgyangs wrote:everybody and their mother have their own phonetic transliteration system, none of which are very good. easier to just learn how to pronounce tibetan.

I agree. But some are better than others.

The THL Simplified Phonetic Transcription of Standard Tibetan is an attempt to standardise a phonetically-based romanised writing system for Tibetan.
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby gad rgyangs » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:28 pm

dharmagoat wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:everybody and their mother have their own phonetic transliteration system, none of which are very good. easier to just learn how to pronounce tibetan.

I agree. But some are better than others.

The THL Simplified Phonetic Transcription of Standard Tibetan is an attempt to standardise a phonetically-based romanised writing system for Tibetan.


yes, I learned that one when I studied with Nicolas Tournadre at UVa one summer, but even then we didn't really use it at all: we learned to pronounce Tibetan correctly from day one., learning the traditional spelling da-ra-ta-tra-kigu-tri (see you cant even really put that phonetically correctly into latin spelling)... etc. Sure, its probably the best phonetic system (he is a linguistics scholar who specializes in Tibetic languages), but how many dharma texts have you seen that use it? 0?
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:12 pm

gad rgyangs wrote:yes, I learned that one when I studied with Nicolas Tournadre at UVa one summer, but even then we didn't really use it at all: we learned to pronounce Tibetan correctly from day one., learning the traditional spelling da-ra-ta-tra-kigu-tri (see you cant even really put that phonetically correctly into latin spelling)... etc. Sure, its probably the best phonetic system (he is a linguistics scholar who specializes in Tibetic languages), but how many dharma texts have you seen that use it? 0?

I agree that taking the time to learn the correct pronunciation of Tibetan is the key. The problem is that those who have both the time and inclination to do this are relatively few. Also there is the problem of writing Tibetan in the Tibetan script. Even with the (now) widespread adoption of Unicode, for most of us writing in the Tibetan script is not as straightforward as writing in our own native roman script, nor is it as accessible. We need a standardised system for writing Tibetan, even if it provides only an approximation to the correct pronunciation. Often it takes time for a standard to become established. Unicode is a good example of this.
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby gad rgyangs » Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:03 am

dharmagoat wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:yes, I learned that one when I studied with Nicolas Tournadre at UVa one summer, but even then we didn't really use it at all: we learned to pronounce Tibetan correctly from day one., learning the traditional spelling da-ra-ta-tra-kigu-tri (see you cant even really put that phonetically correctly into latin spelling)... etc. Sure, its probably the best phonetic system (he is a linguistics scholar who specializes in Tibetic languages), but how many dharma texts have you seen that use it? 0?

I agree that taking the time to learn the correct pronunciation of Tibetan is the key. The problem is that those who have both the time and inclination to do this are relatively few. Also there is the problem of writing Tibetan in the Tibetan script. Even with the (now) widespread adoption of Unicode, for most of us writing in the Tibetan script is not as straightforward as writing in our own native roman script, nor is it as accessible. We need a standardised system for writing Tibetan, even if it provides only an approximation to the correct pronunciation. Often it takes time for a standard to become established. Unicode is a good example of this.


if you cant understand the tibetan you should probably just use english (or whatever ones native language is) except for the mantras. after all, the tibetans themselves translated everything into their own language, just keeping the mantras in sanskrit.
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:20 am

gad rgyangs wrote:if you cant understand the tibetan you should probably just use english (or whatever ones native language is) except for the mantras. after all, the tibetans themselves translated everything into their own language, just keeping the mantras in sanskrit.

I don't agree. And what about proper nouns, like place names and people's names? These can't be translated.
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby gad rgyangs » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:23 am

dharmagoat wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:if you cant understand the tibetan you should probably just use english (or whatever ones native language is) except for the mantras. after all, the tibetans themselves translated everything into their own language, just keeping the mantras in sanskrit.

I don't agree. And what about proper nouns, like place names and people's names? These can't be translated.


wtf? vajrayogini= dorjenaljorma, hevajra=kyedorje ive seen english translations of names too like "diamond sow" for vajravarahi
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:37 am

gad rgyangs wrote:wtf? vajrayogini= dorjenaljorma, hevajra=kyedorje ive seen english translations of names too like "diamond sow" for vajravarahi

How would you translate "ཆོས་རྒྱལ་ནམ་མཁའི་ནོར་བུ་" (chos rgyal nam mkha'i nor bu)?
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby gad rgyangs » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:45 am

dharmagoat wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:wtf? vajrayogini= dorjenaljorma, hevajra=kyedorje ive seen english translations of names too like "diamond sow" for vajravarahi

How would you translate "ཆོས་རྒྱལ་ནམ་མཁའི་ནོར་བུ་" (chos rgyal nam mkha'i nor bu)?


Dharma King Sky Jewel

but why would you want to translate his name?
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:48 am

gad rgyangs wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:wtf? vajrayogini= dorjenaljorma, hevajra=kyedorje ive seen english translations of names too like "diamond sow" for vajravarahi

How would you translate "ཆོས་རྒྱལ་ནམ་མཁའི་ནོར་བུ་" (chos rgyal nam mkha'i nor bu)?


Dharma King Sky Jewel

but why would you want to translate his name?

My point exactly.
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby gad rgyangs » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:49 am

its actually interesting that the trend when it comes to names in the west is to revert back to the sanskrit when that is the original form, as opposed to the tibetans who translated sanskrit names into tibetan.
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby gad rgyangs » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:51 am

dharmagoat wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:
Dharma King Sky Jewel

but why would you want to translate his name?

My point exactly.


you said they "can't be translated", which is false, and of course the tibetans did exactly that: they translated all the indic names into tibetan.
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:05 am

dharmagoat wrote:What about proper nouns, like place names and people's names? These can't be translated.

I can see how the misunderstanding came about. It would have been clearer if I had said "These are better not translated."
Last edited by dharmagoat on Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby gad rgyangs » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:07 am

dharmagoat wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:What about proper nouns, like place names and people's names? These can't be translated.

I can see how the misunderstanding came about. It would have been clearer if I had said "These are better not translated".


so you think the tibetans were wrong to translate the sanskrit names into tibetan?
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:15 am

gad rgyangs wrote:so you think the tibetans were wrong to translate the sanskrit names into tibetan?

I have been talking only about the translation of Tibetan into other languages. I advocate transcription rather than translation, and support the standardisation of a phonetically-based transcription system for writing Tibetan.

THL Simplified Phonetic Transcription of Standard Tibetan
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby gad rgyangs » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:24 am

dharmagoat wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:so you think the tibetans were wrong to translate the sanskrit names into tibetan?

I have been talking only about the translation of Tibetan into other languages. I advocate transcription rather than translation, and support the standardisation of a phonetically-based transcription system for writing Tibetan.

THL Simplified Phonetic Transcription of Standard Tibetan


since the majority of tibetan dharma terms are translations from sanskrit, either of the two alternatives of A) using the original sanskrit terms or B) following the tradition started by the tibetans of translating the terms into one's native language, make more sense than C) keeping the tibetan translations.

the exception would be things like dzogchen texts, which are original tibetan compositions.

but really, there are no simple answers to these questions, and there is certainly no consensus at all among translators of how to handle these issues.
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Re: Tibetan transliteration pronunciation guides

Postby lotwell » Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:41 pm

dharmagoat wrote:I agree that taking the time to learn the correct pronunciation of Tibetan is the key. The problem is that those who have both the time and inclination to do this are relatively few. Also there is the problem of writing Tibetan in the Tibetan script. Even with the (now) widespread adoption of Unicode, for most of us writing in the Tibetan script is not as straightforward as writing in our own native roman script, nor is it as accessible. We need a standardised system for writing Tibetan, even if it provides only an approximation to the correct pronunciation. Often it takes time for a standard to become established. Unicode is a good example of this.


Yes, it's great how standardized and widely used Pinyin is for Chinese. It would be nice if we could agree on a standard transliteration system, like a phonetic Wylie.

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