Re: [Pali] Re: about Appamaadasuttam
Many thanks for your insightful and delight note on translating Pali into English. I
think we have gone a lone way from the early western translation pionner efforts. I
find reading the suttas in their original Pali such a joy of direct experience (as
far as reading goes), and they I recount what I have read (or paraphrase) it.
For all the spirituality that the Pali texts preserve, it is also beautiful
literature which should be brought out in translations.
Robert Eddison wrote:
> This is a response to a post of several weeks back from Tzungkuen. I don't
> remember seeing anyone reply to it, but if someone has already done so,
> then please accept my apologies for missing it.
> >Dear Dhamma friends:
> >Please do me a favor
> >There is a gathaa in KosalaSamyuttam in Samyuttam Nikaaya.
> >Aayu.m arogiya.m van.n.a.m, sagga.m uccaakuliinata.m ;
> >Ratiyo patthayantena, ul.aaraa aparaaparaa.
> >Appamaada.m pasa.msanti, pu~n~nakiriyaasu pan.d.itaa
> >which is translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu as follows
> >For one who desires
> >long life, health,
> >beauty, heaven, & noble birth,
> >-- lavish delights, one after another --
> >the wise praise heedfulness
> >in performing deeds of merit.
> >But I don't know how to analyze 'Ratiyo patthayantena, ul.aaraa aparaaparaa.'
> >Ratiyo : (rati)f.pl.N. or Ac?. meaning 'delight'
> Plural: delights. Accusative, because it is the direct object of
> patthayanta ("one wishing for...").
> >patthayantena :(patthayanta)ppr.sg.I. meaning 'to desire' , why
> >Instrumental case?
> Because it is *by* the person wishing for long life etc. that diligence
> must be exercised. Thanissaro renders it inaccurately as if it were a
> dative. (I will have more to say on this below).
> >ul.aaraa : (ul.aara) adj.f.pl.N or Ac?. meaning 'great or superb'
> Accusative because it qualifies ratiyo. Bodhi translate it as "lofty".
> Others use "sublime", "excellent", "fine" etc. What is certain is that the
> word u.laara pertains to quality not quantity. Thanissaro's rendering of
> "lavish" should therefore be discarded.
> >aparaaparaa :?? [in PED. p.52, there is only aparaaparam. meaning 'again
> >and again' ]
> The PED also gives "to and fro" and "off and on". Childers gives "on and
> on", "successively", "up and down", and "backwards and forwards". Where the
> passage has to do with movement the context makes it obvious which
> direction is denoted, e.g. waves go up and down, bhikkhus go backwards and
> forwards on their walking paths etc. In other contexts regular temporal
> succession and/or recurrence is the commonest meaning. Where it means
> something else the commentary will indicate this. Both the PED and the
> Childers dictionary limit themselves to the adverbial form, but in the
> present context the word is an adjective qualifying ratiyo.
> >What I understand is as follows:
> >Aayu.m : (aayu)n.sg.Ac. meaning 'long life'
> >arogiya.m :(arogiya) m.sg.Ac. meaning 'health'
> >van.n.a.m: (van.n.a)m.sg.Ac. meaning 'beauty'
> >sagga.m : (sagga)m.sg.Ac. meaning 'heaven'
> >uccaakuliinata.m :(uccaakuliinataa) f.sg.Ac. meaning 'noble birth'
> >Appamaada.m :(appamaada) n.sg.Ac. meaning 'earnestness, vigilance'
> >pasa.msanti :(pasa.msati) pres.3.sg.P. meaning 'praise'
> >pu~n~nakiriyaasu: (pu~n~na-kiriyaa) meaning 'in performing deeds of merit'
> >pan.d.itaa : (pan.d.ita) m.pl.N. meaning 'wise people'
> Now some remarks on translating verse. Both the Thanissaro translation
> above, as well as this one by Bhikkhu Bodhi...
> For one who desires long life and health,
> Beauty, heaven, and noble birth,
> [A variety of] lofty delights
> Following in succession,
> The wise praise diligence
> In doing deeds of merit.
> are good specimens of how not to translate Pali verse. Both translators
> have striven to present the ideas in the verse in roughly the same sequence
> as they occur in Pali. In order to do this they have inaccurately rendered
> the instrumental patthayantena ("by one who desires...") as if it were a
> dative ("for one who desires..."). If we try replacing "for" with "by" in
> either of the above translations, we shall see why both translators felt
> compelled to resort to this expedient. Such a translation would fail in
> English because there would be too many words separating "the one who
> desires" from the "diligence" that he is advised to exercise.
> Now in this case it just so happens that the difference in meaning is very
> slight. Nevertheless, a mechanical adherence to the Pali word and/or line
> order is an imprudent practice when translating verse. In all too many
> verse translations the translator's fetish for preserving the Pali line
> order has required him to take considerable liberties with the meaning of
> the text in order to produce something that is readable in English.
> In Pali verse the order of phrases within a single gaathaa need not be
> given much account when translating, since it depends primarily on metre
> and other stylistic factors, and only secondarily (when at all) on meaning.
> This applies even more so when translating verses in post-canonical texts,
> where it's not unknown for the subject of the sentence and the main verb to
> be 10-15 lines apart. When translating something like this into English
> it's impossible to stick to the Pali word or line order.
> When translating a Pali verse, having identified the number, gender and
> case of each declinable word, it's a good policy to proceed by dividing the
> verse into its component phrases and then diagramming them, rather than
> immediately attempting a translation of the whole. This is because in verse
> there is no requirement that the usual word order of subject -> object ->
> predicate be followed. So to reduce the likelihood of error one needs to
> consider all the possible ways that the component words may relate to each
> So first we should look out for nouns or pronouns in the nominative and
> then identify which verb (or verbs) are their predicates and which adjectives
> (if any) are qualifying them. Then we can proceed to do the same with nouns
> in the accusative and other oblique cases. Sometimes several combinations
> may be possible and we should not be too surprised (or disappointed) if the
> outcome happens to be several equally plausible translations of the verse.
> In the present case, happily, there are no such ambiguities. The verse's
> component phrases may be analysed as follows:
> 1) Subject & main verb:
> pa.n.ditaa pasa.msanti
> "the wise praise"
> 2) Primary direct object (showing what it is that the wise praise):
> appamaada.m pu~n~nakiriyaasu
> "diligence in doing deeds of merit"
> 3) Instrument (showing the agent by whom the exercise of diligence is to be
> carried out):
> "by one wishing for"
> 4) Secondary direct object (showing the items wished for by the instrument,
> now considered as a subject in his own right):
> aayu.m arogiya.m va.n.na.m, sagga.m uccaakuliinata.m ratiyo , u.laaraa
> "long life and health, beauty, heaven, noble birth, and a succession of
> fine delights"
> [all accusative because they are direct objects of patthayanta]
> The relations between these 4 components may be shown on a Reed-Kellogg
> diagram, thus:
> | |
> The wise | praise| diligence
> | \
> | \
> | \ by |
> \ one desiring | long life etc.
> following in succession /
> (use a fixed space font to view the diagram).
> All that remains to do is to decide how to put the pieces of the jigsaw
> back together in a way that both suits the natural speech patterns of the
> target language AND preserves the meaning of the text.
> I would suggest:
> "The wise praise diligence in doing deeds of merit by [or: on the part of]
> one wishing for long life, health and beauty, heaven, noble birth, and a
> succession of fine delights."
> I'll leave it to poets to decide how this could best be expressed in verse.
> Best wishes,
> "I don't believe I know of anything in life more exciting
> than diagramming sentences."
> -- Gertrude Stein
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