48vows wrote: ↑Fri Mar 19, 2021 10:05 am
BKh wrote: ↑Sat Mar 13, 2021 5:32 am
As many people have told you, age matters. They still publish many of the first generation translations. These may be necessary for scholarly and historical purposes, but they are not what you should consider reading first, especially if there are newer ones available.
As I have said before, I disagree with this.
Are you by any chance a Pali scholar who has undertaken a comparison of, say, Chalmers' translation of the MN with the later one by I.B. Horner, or of Horner's with the still later one by Ñānamoli? Or Oldenberg's Vinaya Pitaka with Horner's and then Horner's with Brahmali's? Or Woodward's and Hare's AN and SN with the later ones by Bhikkhu Bodhi? Have you ever compared any
pioneering English translation of a Pali text with a later one, and with reference to the Pali original?
I'm pretty confident that the answer is no and that therefore your disagreement with BKh doesn't deserve to carry any weight at all.
If you knew anything at all about the field of English-language Pali studies then you would know that, as in the hard sciences, knowledge is cumulative
. That is, the later a translator happens to have been born, the greater the number of editions that will be available to him, the greater the number of pioneers' errors that will have been detected and corrected, the more thorough the dictionaries and concordances that will have been compiled, the more comprehensive and surefooted the scholarly grasp of Pali grammar etc., etc.
You could give Aristotle a tutorial. And you could thrill him to the core of his being. Aristotle was an encyclopedic polymath, an all time intellect. Yet not only can you know more than him about the world. You also can have a deeper understanding of how everything works. Such is the privilege of living after Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Planck, Watson, Crick and their colleagues.
I'm not saying you're more intelligent than Aristotle, or wiser. For all I know, Aristotle's the cleverest person who ever lived. That's not the point. The point is only that science is cumulative, and we live later.
Richard Dawkins, Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
http://hermiene.net/essays-trans/scienc ... onder.html
And so ceteris paribus
we can usually (though not invariably) anticipate that a later translation will be superior to an earlier one.
To this general rule there are two exceptions: (1) those where the later translator is simply less capable that the earlier one (e.g., Walshe's DN and Horner's Milinda are inferior to the earlier ones by Thomas Rhys Davids, because the earlier translator was a lot more intelligent than Miss Horner and had a lot more years of Pali study behind him than Maurice Walshe); and (2) verse translations where the later translator has decided to prioritize the creation of good poetry over fidelity to the text's meaning (e.g., as a translation of the Suttanipāta E.M. Hare's Woven Cadences
is far better poetry than the pioneering rendering by Fausboll, but if it's accuracy you want, then Fausboll's the man.
Or at least Fausboll would
be the man if it weren't for the fact that his translation has been superseded by those of Norman, Jayawickrama and Bodhi. Why superseded? Because Fausboll, though arguably the greatest of all 19th century Western Pali scholars, only had one version of the Suttanipāta to translate from and it happened to be a bad one. The three later scholars had many editions to consult, as well as the commentary.