Recommend 3 good Pali translators

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Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby Wind » Sat May 22, 2010 9:33 am

Hi

Can you recommend 3 good Pali translators? I know Bhikkhu Bodhi is one, but any others? I would like to get a wider range of translation of the Suttas to have a better understanding of the Pali.
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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby retrofuturist » Sat May 22, 2010 9:40 am

Greetings Wind,

It's hard because there is no sutta translator in modern times who has been as prolific at Bhikkhu Bodhi, so of most suttas, you'll be lucky to find 3 translations, let alone three translations of a high quality. As I've suggested elsewhere, it might be worthwhile spending time familiarizing yourself with key Pali words so that regardless of how someone translates a particular word, you can get the deeper sense of the word that was originally implied in the Pali.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 22, 2010 9:54 am

Wind wrote:Hi

Can you recommend 3 good Pali translators? I know Bhikkhu Bodhi is one, but any others? I would like to get a wider range of translation of the Suttas to have a better understanding of the Pali.

http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net/eng/ ... =other&p=1 This anthology of suttas translated by Pali scholar and meditation teacher Ven Nanananda from the Samyutta Nikaya is excellent.

These anthologies are worth reading and are inexpensive and are worth having, particularly the first two which are excellent:
SAYINGS OF THE BUDDHA, translated by Pali scholar Rupert Gethin and current president of the Pali Text Society.
EARLY BUDDHIST DISCOURSES, translated by John C. Holder
BASIC TEACHINGS OF THE BUDDHA, translated by Glenn Wallis

These translations should be good to excellent and are are available in PDF:

http://www.bps.lk/onlinelibrary_wheels.asp#trans I would highly recommend Ven Nanaponika's works.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 22, 2010 9:59 am

PALI WORKBOOK might be of interest in getting a basic handle on Pali terms.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby Wind » Mon May 24, 2010 6:05 am

That's disappointing that we don't have many good Pali translators. I hear the Pali Text Society already have the entire Pali Canon translated, who did the translations, and is it good?

Btw, I hope Bhikkhu Bodhi can finish the 4th Nikaya for Wisdom Publishing and I hope he doing well.
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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 24, 2010 6:18 am

Greetings Wind,

Wind wrote:That's disappointing that we don't have many good Pali translators. I hear the Pali Text Society already have the entire Pali Canon translated, who did the translations, and is it good?.

I've only ever read tiny bits and pieces of the PTS translations. I get the impression they're OK, but being early they may predate certain key discoveries of relevance in the translation from Pali to English

Wind wrote:Btw, I hope Bhikkhu Bodhi can finish the 4th Nikaya for Wisdom Publishing and I hope he doing well.

Thus have I heard that his translation of the Anguttara Nikaya is done and (last I heard) is in the hefty process of review and other pre-publication activities. As for Bhikkhu Bodhi's involvement, I think he's done his bit, unless someone decides he needs to be consulted on anything.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby Wind » Mon May 24, 2010 8:16 am

retrofuturist wrote:Thus have I heard that his translation of the Anguttara Nikaya is done and (last I heard) is in the hefty process of review and other pre-publication activities. As for Bhikkhu Bodhi's involvement, I think he's done his bit, unless someone decides he needs to be consulted on anything.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Oh good. I haven't heard anything so I thought it was incomplete and never be completed. Good to know it's done and will be published sometime in the near future. Hopefully a new talented translator will pick up where Bodhi left off as he appears to be retired. I am already very content that 4 Nikayas are done :twothumbsup:
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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 24, 2010 8:25 am

Wind wrote: Hopefully a new talented translator will pick up where Bodhi left off as he appears to be retired. I am already very content that 4 Nikayas are done

And it is still worthwhile to read differing translations, as from the sources I recommended above. As for the fifth Nikaya, the Khuddaka Nikaya, some of the texts have translations have been done rather well, and few others need to be redone, such as the Patisambhidamagga.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby Wind » Mon May 24, 2010 8:10 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Wind wrote: Hopefully a new talented translator will pick up where Bodhi left off as he appears to be retired. I am already very content that 4 Nikayas are done

And it is still worthwhile to read differing translations, as from the sources I recommended above. As for the fifth Nikaya, the Khuddaka Nikaya, some of the texts have translations have been done rather well, and few others need to be redone, such as the Patisambhidamagga.


I agree it's always good to look into different translations. Good to know there are some good translation of the 5th Nikaya. :smile:
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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue May 25, 2010 2:38 am

Wind wrote:I hear the Pali Text Society already have the entire Pali Canon translated, who did the translations, and is it good?


Various translators from Norman to Rhys Davids. It is pretty good and good enough for a study resource. The language is a little archaic, but okay. Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations are by far the best, but of course they are the most recent and he is a well-educated intelligent scholar.
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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby Brizzy » Tue May 25, 2010 9:55 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
Wind wrote:I hear the Pali Text Society already have the entire Pali Canon translated, who did the translations, and is it good?


Various translators from Norman to Rhys Davids. It is pretty good and good enough for a study resource. The language is a little archaic, but okay. Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations are by far the best, but of course they are the most recent and he is a well-educated intelligent scholar.



Although certain translations can be laughably wide of the mark, because they are early they might not be subject to any preconceived ideas or adherent to tradition. It can be illuminating to read certain translations from the suttas from people who take the words at face value.

Retro............Is there any talk of a year of publication for the Anguttara?

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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby Sunrise » Sat Aug 14, 2010 7:12 pm

I am not too comfortable with Bodhi's translations as he is biased towards notions of rebirth and misinterprets certain words thereby distorting meaning of the suttas. Just my opinion.

This has good translations I have seen so far: http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/
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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 8:22 pm

Sunrise wrote:I am not too comfortable with Bodhi's translations as he is biased towards notions of rebirth and misinterprets certain words thereby distorting meaning of the suttas. Just my opinion.

This has good translations I have seen so far: http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/

Seriously? It's useful to have those translations, but I often find them almost impossible to read.

What I like about Bhikkhu Bodhi is that he is generally clear about the various possible interpretations (commentary, modern interpreters such as Ven Nanananda, his own opinion...). And his English is very readable.

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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 8:52 pm

And, to follow up, Ven Nananada's selection of translations from the Samyutta Nikaya is well worth reading.
http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net/eng/ ... =other&p=1
I've been reading those in parallel with Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations, which, as I indicated above, refer to Ven Nananada's interpretations (among others). Of course, it's also instructive to compare Ven Thanissaro's tranlations at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/index.html

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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Aug 14, 2010 10:50 pm

Brizzy wrote:Although certain translations can be laughably wide of the mark, because they are early they might not be subject to any preconceived ideas or adherent to tradition. It can be illuminating to read certain translations from the suttas from people who take the words at face value.

Unfortunately, a lot of the early English translations suffer hugely from preconceived ideas - Christian ideas. They keep on slipping into a devotional mindset, a salvationist mindset, even a monotheistic mindset.
The ideal translator shares the world-view of the text but understands the world-view of the culture the translation will serve, so that he/she can anticipate and avoid the likeliest mis-readings. (That's as well as being a native-level speaker of English and good with Pali, of course.)
That just about means someone who has grown up in one culture and adopted the other.
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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:08 am

mikenz66 wrote:Seriously? It's useful to have those translations, but I often find them almost impossible to read.


I don't have any problems there. Besides it has the pali right next to it so you can always cross reference.

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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:12 am

mikenz66 wrote:Ven Thanissaro's tranlations at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/index.html



Another not so great translation which has biases. I have found several places where the word "womb" has been added (within brackets of course but still an unnecessary bias) where the womb is not mentioned in the pali

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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:35 am

Hi Sunrise,
Sunrise wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Ven Thanissaro's tranlations at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/index.html

Another not so great translation which has biases. I have found several places where the word "womb" has been added (within brackets of course but still an unnecessary bias) where the womb is not mentioned in the pali

Sure, I'd pick Bhikkhu Bodhi over Ven Thanissaro for depth of scholarship and exposition of the various possible readings, but it is always interesting to compare.

Since I'm not fluent in Pali, or the historical context, I really have to rely on translators. But, to comment on one of your points, my understanding of the prevailing Brahaminical view at the time (from reading the work of Richard Gombrich, such as "What the Buddha Thought", for example) is that "other world" refers to a world after death. In which case "next world" is a sensible way to render it in English.

Perhaps one of our Pali/Historical experts would like to comment on these issues. I have nothing to add.

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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:11 am

mikenz66 wrote:Sure, I'd pick Bhikkhu Bodhi over Ven Thanissaro for depth of scholarship and exposition of the various possible readings, but it is always interesting to compare.

Since I'm not fluent in Pali, or the historical context, I really have to rely on translators.


I agree. Not being too fluent in pali myself I also have no option but to reply on translations.

mikenz66 wrote: But, to comment on one of your points, my understanding of the prevailing Brahaminical view at the time (from reading the work of Richard Gombrich, such as "What the Buddha Thought", for example) is that "other world" refers to a world after death. In which case "next world" is a sensible way to render it in English.

Perhaps one of our Pali/Historical experts would like to comment on these issues. I have nothing to add.



Forget about "paraloka". Take the word womb for example. Specific pali words for womb could be "gabbasaya", "gabba", "lingehi". I have seen the word womb added in by some English translators where no such word is referred to in the pali. Although it is added within brackets it is still an unnecessary bias which motivates the reader to think in terms of many lifetimes and dilute them from thinking in terms of moment to moment in this lifetime. I'm just saying that it is better to watch out for such translator's biases, which I see are at a minimum in metta.lk

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Re: Recommend 3 good Pali translators

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:32 am

On the other hand, one should be careful about other biases. My understanding is that in those cases where "womb" is added is where there is a "descent" talked about, it is arguable that comparison with other Suttas, and other background information, would indicate that it is implied by the wording. As I said, 'm no expert, but clearly I am much more likely to be guided by Bhikkhu's Bodhi, Thanissaro, Nanananda, etc,or Profs Gombrich, Gethin, Harvey, etc, than by the particular preferences of a non-expert....

As far I can understand, all of the above scholars are quite clear that the texts discuss post-mortem rebirth.

I think it would be sensible to separate what the language and the context implies from other questions, such as:
  • Were these teachings just to cater to then-current views?
  • Where exactly is the Buddha being metaphorical rather than literal?
  • Is there any point in worrying about such things?
Those are valid questions/concerns but I think that resolving them is a much deeper issue than fixating on one or two minor matters of translation.

And, of course, many would say that it's irrelevant, and one should just get on with the 8-fold Path...

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