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homonyms

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  • Alexander Genaud
    Hello, I am experimenting with normalizing some of the Pali in a database. In the future, I hope that this could be of use to some of you. Perhaps you can
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 30, 2004
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      Hello,

      I am experimenting with normalizing some of the Pali in a
      database. In the future, I hope that this could be of use to
      some of you. Perhaps you can share some of your experience
      translating Pali.

      Many words have multiple definitions in any Pali-English
      dictionary. In general, Which do you feel is more accurate, that
      Pali contains many homonyms or simply that a perfectly matching
      translation or connotation may not be available in English?

      In the case of homonyms, in most cases, is it fairly easy to
      discern the intended meaning from context? For example, is it
      usually clear when dhamma refers to conduct, teaching, or truth.

      Is it safe to assume that identical Pali sentences found in
      different sutta could accurately share translations?

      Among various collections (PTS, VRI, etc), is there a general
      consistency in the spelling of Pali words? In what ways do they
      these collections differ (organization, content, etc)?

      Thank you in advance for any help you might provide,
      Alex

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    • Gunnar Gällmo
      ... I think both. A typical example of homonyms is vibhava in the Second Noble Truth, which was consistently misunderstood by the early Western translators
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 31, 2004
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        --- Alexander Genaud <alexgenaud@...> skrev: >

        > Many words have multiple definitions in any
        > Pali-English
        > dictionary. In general, Which do you feel is more
        > accurate, that
        > Pali contains many homonyms or simply that a
        > perfectly matching
        > translation or connotation may not be available in
        > English?

        I think both. A typical example of homonyms is vibhava
        in the Second Noble Truth, which was consistently
        misunderstood by the early Western translators from
        Pali (a point, I think, for looking at the
        commentaries from time to time).

        An example of perfectly matching translations not
        available in English is dukkha - or, for that matter,
        bhikkhu, as bhikkhus are strictly speaking more
        similar to friars than to monks.

        > In the case of homonyms, in most cases, is it fairly
        > easy to
        > discern the intended meaning from context? For
        > example, is it
        > usually clear when dhamma refers to conduct,
        > teaching, or truth.

        Now you're getting into deep water. There's nothing
        easy in the art of translation.

        > Is it safe to assume that identical Pali sentences
        > found in
        > different sutta could accurately share translations?

        I hope so, but I wouldn't bet on it.

        > Among various collections (PTS, VRI, etc), is there
        > a general
        > consistency in the spelling of Pali words? In what
        > ways do they
        > these collections differ (organization, content,
        > etc)?

        Those who are more competent than I may answer; I can
        only point out a couple of slight details in my first
        experience of the CSCD.

        I tried to find the Kalama Sutta. Searched for
        kaalaamasutta.m - no luck. Searched for kesaputta, as
        the town is named in all versions I have seen as far -
        no luck. Finally searched fo kaalaamaana.m, and there
        it was; the sutta being called, however,
        Kesamuttisutta.m, and the town called Kesamutta.

        Also in the Karaniyamettasutta (which they call only
        Mettasutta.m), both in the Khuddakapatha and in the
        Suttanipata, third stanza, first line, I have always
        read - and heard - "na ca khudda.m samaacare kiñci",
        but in the CSCD, both places, the syllable "sam-" did
        not appear, thus "na ca khuddamaacare kiñci"; I looked
        at the footnotes, which have alternate readings for
        several words, bot not for this one.

        Some weeks ago, in the Royal Library in Stockholm,
        there was a public presentation of a new Siamese
        edition of the Pali Tipitaka (latinized). It was said
        to be based on the Chattha Sangayana version, in
        collaboration with the VRI people, after several years
        work of correcting errors in their version - which
        seems to me to imply that the CSCD is perhaps not
        quite perfect. Unfortunately, the edition presented
        seems to be a De Lux one only in paper form (the
        presenters didn't seem positive to making their text
        available on line and/or CD).

        And the Thai people presenting it weren't quite
        perfect either. They repeatedly asserted that the
        Sixth Council took place in 1957, probably confusing
        the Siamese Buddhist chronology with the
        Ceylonese-Burmese one.

        Well, there is no perfection in this world. That's
        dukkha.

        Gunnar Gällmo







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