PeterB wrote:There is in fact a substantial difference in attempting to adapt Buddhist teachings to a modern european language compared to Chinese. Tibetan, Japanese etc. By nature euopean languges are less suited to the job . In part this is due to the concretisation of language which is part of the european heritage. Those asiatic languages do not have the equivilent of nouns, or the adjectives that describes those nouns, or the verbs which see them as actions. Instead those languages describe a world in flux and becoming.
Alan Watts pointed out Chinese does not describe a cat as a static object, discrete from its environment, rather it describes an process of " catting".....A characteristic that Chinese shares with Pali, and which makes adaption from the latter to the former a very different prospect to adapting Pali to a modern european language.
Which is the reason why to translate a term like dukkha or tanha requires at least a paragraph in English, and why it is easier and quicker in the long run to internalise the key concepts of Dhamma ( another word that requires a lengthy para in English to convey its nuances ) in Pali.
While I'd be amongst the first to agree that the difference in languages is great, and this is very significant, much of the above descriptions of Chinese and Pali at least, simply do not match my experiences.
Chinese ... "catting"!? What does that even mean? How about: 你家有沒有貓？ Subject (with adjective), verb (in question form) and object. Pretty straightforward. The cat is obviously not a verb. 有一隻黑貓從屋頂上跳下去了。 Hmmm, still looks like a noun. I really don't know how one could make a cat into a verb in Chinese.
And the grammatical separation in Pali is even stronger. Due to the Indo-European roots, Pali, Prakrits and Sanskrit to most European languages is actually rather straightforward, just have to be aware of things like the sentence order, obviously, and passive vs active structures.
I really wonder where Watts gets these ideas from. Have you studied Chinese and Pali, PeterB?
Internalization is definitely the way to go, though, that is definitely correct in my view. Another major issue in my eyes is simply that of vocab, particularly of mental states, and states of non-usual consciousness. We've largely pathologized these in English, it seems.