inofficial e-texts - interested???

Robin Kornman rkornman at pucc.Princeton.EDU
Sat Feb 25 05:39:57 UTC 1995

Jim Hartzell describes below dictionaries that are useful for tantras and
their related sastras.  He says that there are no standard dictionaries to
cover the needs of people translating these texts. Boy is he right. Add to
this native translations of native Tibetan religious texts, Tibetan Buddhist
ritual texts, and a host of other materials being translated nowadays by
various translation committees. The classical dictionaries are not very helpful.

Well, actually, those of us translating these "unrepresented" texts do
indeed have dictionaries. We have dictionaries we have manufactured using
our computers as we went along. For example, the Nalanda Translation
Committee has its own ever-growing glossary of standardizations we use in
our translations of biographies and ritual texts. We know that such
glossaries exist for many other groups. And Erik Schmidt combines these
various databases in a huge, burgeoning computerized dictionary he keeps in
Nepal. We freely give him our material and he and his friends type it into
their huge database. 

The problem is that there is no money or time to spruce up these bases into
publishable dictionaries like Monier-Williams. Jeffrey Hopkins and his
students solve this problem by continually republishing their database at
the local Kinkos. They keep the information on a database program and
produce new editions in printed form on an irregular basis. 

Should we make our databases available via FTP?  We are all hesitant to do
this, because we do not understand very clearly what risks are involved in
this process. We would expose unedited scholary materials to the criticism
of our colleagues. We might forestall the possibility of one day actually
publishing a prestigious, carefully editing dictionary like Monier-Williams.
We might invite plagerism and stealing of our work--- which might not be a
problem, but who knows?  None of us have thought through the problems that
might be involved.  

Then there are a number of interesting dictionaries that relate to
indological subjects and are in Chinese or published in China. Not covered
by international copyright law, these texts could easily be transferred to
electronic format. Some of them have been. But they are only available
informally, again because the politics of making these texts broadly
available electronically is obscure. 

Several important new dictionaries that provide very specific vocabularies
are being produced at the moment in China, England, the U.S. and other
places. One hears of them.

Then there are card-catalogue vocabularies which could be transferred to
computer databases quite easily. I saw one for Tibetan oral narrative in
Paris several years ago. 

Vast lexical materials are informally available.  But nothing systematic or
public is being done about these resources. 

Robin Kornman
>I would heartily agree on the usefulness of something like this.  I'd also
>like to suggest consideration of some sort of internet-accessible
>technical terminology dictionary;  in particular this would be useful
>to develop for the rather extensive number and types of texts that were
>not read by the authors of the current standard dictionaries for Sanskrit
>and Tibetan, i.e, Monier-Williams (or was it Bothlink and Roth.....),
> Apte, and for Tibetan, Das and Jaschke.  Virtually none of the tantras,
>for instance, nor their related sastras in Sanskrit and Tibetan, are
>represented in these dictionaries.  Individuals translating such
>`unrepresented' texts could then contribute translated terms with citations.
>Over time, this could result in a vastly improved set of dictionaries.
>Jim Hartzell


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