More on translating scatological language…

Following on from my dilemma about how to translate the terms referring to hermitage toilets, I have just been reading Andrew Skilton’s ‘Lost in Translation: Reflections on Translating Scatological Language in Buddhist Literature’ in the journal Contemporary Buddhism. (It can be found here.) I read a version of this paper many years ago since I was in fact one of the Pāli students whose uncomfortable response to the use of “shit” in translating the Gūthapāṇa Jātaka prompted its reflections. The article is a lively and thought-provoking exploration of how to translate the “rude” bits of religious texts, and it includes useful discussion of the ways in which translators’ decisions are affected by social context. His unpicking of Horner’s translation of (and, in some cases, refusal to translate) the rude bits of the Vinaya is particularly interesting. As well as being a thoroughly entertaining read, Skilton’s article highlights the importance of acknowledging that not all religious texts are intended to be dry and didactic, but that in fact some may be intentionally funny.


About naomiappleton

I work in the Divinity School at the University of Edinburgh, where I research and teach subjects related to South and Southeast Asian religions.
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One Response to More on translating scatological language…

  1. Pingback: Gerontology and Scatology « THE SCARECROW

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