Tradition and Adaptation

Translating Indic Buddhist Texts Into Modern Chinese

  • Tse-fu Kuan
Keywords: Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, Buddhism, translation, Bible


There was a long tradition of translating Buddhist texts from Indic languages into classical Chinese during the first millennium CE. There have been a number of new Chinese translations of Buddhist texts from Sanskrit and Pali in recent decades. This paper provides case studies that illustrate the various ways in which these modern translations were produced in light of the historical background of traditional translations. When traditional renderings do not suit modern readers for various reasons, translators can take different approaches to adapting their new translations to the readers, such as indirect translation, shifting from source-oriented norms to target-oriented norms, and reinterpreting words from the historical-philological viewpoint. A few instances are cited from the history of Bible translations in the hope of shedding more light on some issues of Buddhist translations, considering certain parallels between the two traditions of translating sacred texts.


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How to Cite
Kuan, T.- fu. (2015). Tradition and Adaptation: Translating Indic Buddhist Texts Into Modern Chinese. Archiv orientální, 83(2), 281-316.
Research Article