October 27, 2022

Translation and the challenges it poses

by Interfaith

Firedragon said:

You are right. When translating many of the languages I am sure one word cannot be translated into one word. BUT, words can be explained. The problem is these explanations will fill up the whole room. Imagine someone translated the Tipitaka into English and goes to explain. It will be a disaster. That is why most people I have come across all over the world make huge blunders. Maybe I should not say blunders.

Pali is the perfect example. I have never come across another language that is as concise as Pali. It’s so concise, if you translate a paragraph into English, the direct translation will be the size of two paragraphs. For example. What does Buddha mean? If you translate it how would you translate it? It’s actual meaning is “one whose Buddhi is settled in the highest place”. So the difference between Buddhi and Buddha is just a syllable. That is called “Kombu”. One vowel. That’s it. Buddhi meaning intellect or intelligence.

The word “Vera” in Pali means “hatred”. To negate the word Hatred or say something like “lack of hatred” all you have to do is put an “A” before the word. Avera. That means “lack of hatred”. Now you might remember the saying in Buddhism from the Sutta Pitaka “hatred does not help negate hatred. Only love can help negate hatred”. Now that is an English translation, and is very very famous. Maybe I have worded it wrong but the gist is the same everywhere. Do you note the blunder? Love is not the translation of Avera. It’s such a big blunder. Huge. Translators have twisted it sideways.

Hm, not sure which passage you mean? Dhammapada Verse 5?

Na hi verena verāni, sammantīdha kudācanaṃ;
Averena ca sammanti, esa dhammo sanantano.

My stilted, mostly word-by-word translation:

Not, indeed, is hatred by hatred appeased here at any time;
By non-hatred it is appeased, this is the law, everlasting.

However, I don’t see any blunder in the more conventional renderings like the Ven. Sujato’s version:

For never is hatred settled by hate, it’s only settled by love: this is an eternal truth.

Can you point out which blunder you meant?

  •  Thread starter Cino 
  •  Start date 26/10/2022

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