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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
FALL 2014 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 53 For example, I’m translating Dogen, whose writings are commentaries on Chinese texts. While he occasionally cites by name the text he’s commenting on, many times he doesn’t. There are no quotation marks, but a translator should be able to look at a passage and know that it comes from this or that Chinese Buddhist text. When scholars don’t understand that those aren’t his words, don’t see those invisible quotation marks, they try to run sentences together that don’t work at all grammatically. If you were to take an English sentence with a couple of quotes and take the quotation marks off, you’d get gibberish. Such gibberish is often interpreted as “the profound insight of the Zen master.” But digital search is this miracu- lous tool that now makes 99.9 percent of Dogen completely intelligible because you can find what he’s quoting. It’s been revolutionary in that respect. BUDDHADHARMA: How else has technology, and the Internet in particular, changed the way that translation is approached? SARAH HARDING: Technology has changed translation tremen- dously, just in terms of time and the ability to look some- thing up quickly without flipping through giant pages of text. Online sources for the Tibetan language have been lagging, but they’re beginning to catch up. Very recently the Kangyur has become searchable online, but it’s still not that easy to navigate. What’s really lacking is any kind of database on the indigenous materials. Tibetan is a living language; idiomatic expressions range over several thousand years, and there’s no way to check on the use of a term or even to find it in context because those things haven’t been digitized. When they are, it will be amazing. BHIKKHU BODHI: The Vipassana Research Institute in India, the organization established by the late S. N. Goenka, transcribed the Sixth Council edition of the Pali canon and all of its com- mentaries, which are available electronically now. You can download and change the script into your own language—if you want to read it in Sinhalese characters you can do so, or in Thai characters, Burmese characters, Roman characters, or in Devanagri. If you want to determine the meaning of a word or expression, you can enter it into the search box and in a split second find all its occurrences in the different strata of texts: canonical, commentaries, subcommentaries, and a few additional works. This facilitates clearer understanding of the term and demonstrates its range of applications. SARAH HARDING: I should also mention the Tibetan Buddhist Research Center, which for years has been scanning and TOKYONATIONALMUSEUM