Buddhism and Buddhist Texts

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Translation has played a central role in the dissemination of Buddhism, and the intercultural movement and transformation of Buddhism have been inextricably bound up with the interlingual translation of Buddhist texts. Much scholarship on Buddhist translation has been concerned with the attempt to trace the possible sources of given translations. In the Chinese Buddhist canon – whose texts, written in Chinese script, are used across China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam – translations are in many cases the only record of particular scriptures, their Indic sources having been lost. Translators have generally enjoyed a high status in the Buddhist world. Kramer notes their “exalted position in Tibetan society”, while Davidson observes how Tibetan translators are celebrated iconographically in the image of a double-headed cuckoo, “a bird said to know perfectly both the source and the target languages”. Buddhism can provide important insights into the experience and understanding of translation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Encylopaedia of Translation Studies
EditorsMona Baker, Gabriela Saldanha
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781315678627
ISBN (Print)9781032088709, 9781138933330
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2019


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