Translatorhood

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Thomas Amundsen
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:47 am

dharmafootsteps wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:43 am
PeterC wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:01 am
Thomas Amundsen wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:12 pm

Hmmm. Unless things have changed drastically over the last decade when I studied this stuff, that's not how machine translators work. It is much, much dumber than that (although they do work surprisingly well in many cases). They use a noisy channel model where the program basically assumes that translating from, say French to English, is basically as if some French speaker/writer is speaking/writing in English, but the message just got garbled along the way. The translation program then attempts to "correct" the garbled message and produces English output. I've also worked on what they call "precision grammars" that involve deep semantic knowledge of languages, but as far as I know, this stuff is not widely used in practice, it's essentially confined to research right now.

What you're describing sounds like Case-Based Reasoning (CBR). I don't think they use that technique for translation. I agree though that ultimately any machine methods rely on existing English translations, which is certainly problematic. With precision grammars, you wouldn't need to rely on translated corpora, but you do still have to rely on a translated lexicon, which is still problematic.
My frame of reference on this is limited - I’m familiar only with the current approach that the Chinese tech companies are taking for machine translation in and out of Chinese. I recognize that there are a lot of other models out there and from your comments you sound far more knowledgeable on this topic than am I. I think we are arriving at the same conclusion, though, on the apparent realization of machines in this regard
Machine learning, and specifically neural networks have changed things quite a bit: https://research.google.com/pubs/pub45610.html

It's what resulted in the massive jump in the quality of google translate a little over a year ago for certain language pairs.
OK, yea I've never seen this tech before. Still, I wouldn't trust it for translating Buddhist tantras.

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Drenpa
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Drenpa » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:52 am

csmorg96 wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:55 pm
How does one support themselves as a translator of Sanskrit/Tibetan?

Merit.

It has probably always been so - but in the times we live in, to be able to devote one's self solely to Dharma is a clear sign of inestimable merit.

It's inspiring to me to see great beings use their merit and situation so actively in benefiting others. I'm sure as Buddhists we have all met truly exceptional beings who have accumulated stores of merit and wisdom that seem inexhaustible. These are clear signs of the fruit manifesting in qualities.

When we see people in this situation use their merit to continue to benefit beings, this itself is the teaching.

I heard an apocryphal story that when HHT Dalai Lama was asked how Mao was able to do what he did, he said that it was because Mao had more merit than anyone in the world at that time. Apply Snopes protocol here as this is from my some strand of a memory, but it illustrates my point. Maybe.

May all sentient beings with great merit choose the path of Dharma and use that merit to benefit beings rather than squander it on their own selfish aims arising from affliction!

May the work of those with the capacity to perfectly teach the Dharma without artifice or thought of gain be swift and unimpeded!

dharmafootsteps
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by dharmafootsteps » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:53 am

Thomas Amundsen wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:47 am
OK, yea I've never seen this tech before. Still, I wouldn't trust it for translating Buddhist tantras.
Oh yeah, totally agree with you on that, we're going to need human translators for a long time to come.

tingdzin
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by tingdzin » Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:17 am

I know a few human translators who might as well be machines.

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Drenpa
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Drenpa » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:50 pm

tingdzin wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:17 am
I know a few human translators who might as well be machines.
Not all are created equal, and nobody is completely immune from aspects of Dunning Kruger when ego left unchecked.

There are also cases of people being too ambitious too soon.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018 ... ranslation

But I doubt a machine will ever even come close to the best human translators. Especially for more arcane Dharma texts where a translator must also be a practitioner and have access to the tradition to get the real sense - otherwise, entropy takes over and the tradition is adulterated quickly.

Varis
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Varis » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:04 pm

csmorg96 wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:55 pm
How does one support themselves as a translator of Sanskrit/Tibetan?
By utilizing their mantric power to attract a sponsor. :twisted:
I'm kidding. :D

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Lingpupa
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Lingpupa » Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:18 pm

Varis wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:04 pm
I'm kidding. :D
But only slightly.
All the best
Alex Wilding
Stupa in the Snow blog at http://chagchen.org/

tingdzin
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by tingdzin » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:50 am

Drenpa wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:50 pm
There are also cases of people being too ambitious too soon.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018 ... ranslation
Ah well, as the Italians say,"Traduttore tradittore." = literally "translator, traitor"

Perfect translation is probably impossible, but someone who publishes their own "enhanced" version of a literary work as a "translation", is in my book pretty scummy. And it is surely demeritorious to let one's ego get in the way of accurate Dharma translations. When I was a translator, I translated for a couple of teachers who would deliberately throw the occasional curve ball, just to see if I would be open about my not understanding, or would try to preserve my prestige by papering over what he said with a fluent non sequiter. I have also personally witnessed some translators taking the latter course.

SunWuKong
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by SunWuKong » Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:01 pm

climb-up wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:44 pm
SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:22 pm
csmorg96 wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:55 pm
How does one support themselves as a translator of Sanskrit/Tibetan?
By being better than the others.
That is a sometimes necessary (...almost never) but almost never sufficient strategy in almost any field.

My guess would be to look into the publishing industry and how to make money in it. Publishing is super-competitive and it might be worth looking into to successful self-publishing strategies (in which case you'll need to learn marketing, sales and branding).

Talks, lectures and classes can be sold to the public (again; marketing, sales, branding...). Of course, if you give a talk, lecture or class you've got a good opportunity to sell your book (see above).

Selling yourself or your services is similar to being a performer and a lot of successful performers will point out that "show business" has two words. "Show" has four letters and "business" has 8, ...business being twice as important as the show(if you want to make a living doing it).
If your not a qualified Dharma teacher try a professor with a PhD or a poet with an MFA? Your question give little indication of you passion desires and intent. Money follows success, not vice versa
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

PeterC
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by PeterC » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:45 am

climb-up wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:44 pm

My guess would be to look into the publishing industry and how to make money in it.
That’s the crux of the problem. Publishing as a whole doesn’t make much money and that isn’t going in the right direction. Dharma publishing struggles with the additional burden of selling into a segment that is small and doesn’t have high per capita spending power. Translations of really important texts sell into an even more niche market. So it’s just tough. Which is a problem given that the work of translators is critically, irreplaceable important to the spread of the Dharma. A frighteningly small number of translators were essential in enabling the Dharma to spread beyond India before it declined there. And when you look at the number of people working on translation today, it’s still a very small group. I believe we have an obligation as practitioners to support them financially. It bothers me that this isn’t a higher priority in many Sanghas.

jake
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by jake » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:23 am

PeterC wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:45 am
climb-up wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:44 pm

My guess would be to look into the publishing industry and how to make money in it.
That’s the crux of the problem. Publishing as a whole doesn’t make much money and that isn’t going in the right direction. Dharma publishing struggles with the additional burden of selling into a segment that is small and doesn’t have high per capita spending power. Translations of really important texts sell into an even more niche market. So it’s just tough. Which is a problem given that the work of translators is critically, irreplaceable important to the spread of the Dharma. A frighteningly small number of translators were essential in enabling the Dharma to spread beyond India before it declined there. And when you look at the number of people working on translation today, it’s still a very small group. I believe we have an obligation as practitioners to support them financially. It bothers me that this isn’t a higher priority in many Sanghas.
:good:

I'd also like to say how disheartening it is to see people so readily sharing PDFs of books online. An act which certainly doesn't support the important work of translators.
“The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone."

climb-up
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by climb-up » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:47 am

PeterC wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:45 am
climb-up wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:44 pm

My guess would be to look into the publishing industry and how to make money in it.
That’s the crux of the problem. Publishing as a whole doesn’t make much money and that isn’t going in the right direction. Dharma publishing struggles with the additional burden of selling into a segment that is small and doesn’t have high per capita spending power. Translations of really important texts sell into an even more niche market. So it’s just tough. Which is a problem given that the work of translators is critically, irreplaceable important to the spread of the Dharma. A frighteningly small number of translators were essential in enabling the Dharma to spread beyond India before it declined there. And when you look at the number of people working on translation today, it’s still a very small group. I believe we have an obligation as practitioners to support them financially. It bothers me that this isn’t a higher priority in many Sanghas.
Yeah, good points.

...network and find a wealthy patron?
...teach more people Tibetan and Sanskrit? (Very few of the hot new language-learning programs have Tibetan. :( )
(The second, of course, wouldn't help a translator make a living but would help disseminate more dharma teachings both to the students and the people they communicate with).

PeterC
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by PeterC » Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:15 am

climb-up wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:47 am

...network and find a wealthy patron?
Patronage has historically been an important part of the dissemination of the Dharma and it has to remain so now. I think we could, collectively, do a much better job of connecting patrons to translators and organizing funding of translation projects. Some dharma charities have done good work in this regard but it’s still largely a cottage industry. If you’re a patron, it can actually be frustratingly hard to find a way to finance translation projects, due to the way that most Dharma charities tend to work.

Re online PDFs. Completely agree that copyright theft of this kind both undermines the fragile economics of translation-to-publish and accrues negative karma. I suspect the solution is to find a way for translators and publishers to not depend so much on the ex post revenue stream, so we can think about how we’d make more dharma texts available for free to those qualified to read them.

climb-up
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by climb-up » Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:10 am

PeterC wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:15 am
If you’re a patron, it can actually be frustratingly hard to find a way to finance translation projects, due to the way that most Dharma charities tend to work.
What!!??? That is really weird!
This seems like something that could be fixed ( ...I assume ...by someone) and have some sort of portal or space for potential patrons and translators to connect.

I don't really now anything about patronage or on-line dating, but it seems like someone in the know might be able to make something happen.

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Malcolm
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Malcolm » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:33 pm

climb-up wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:10 am
PeterC wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:15 am
If you’re a patron, it can actually be frustratingly hard to find a way to finance translation projects, due to the way that most Dharma charities tend to work.
What!!??? That is really weird!
This seems like something that could be fixed ( ...I assume ...by someone) and have some sort of portal or space for potential patrons and translators to connect.

I don't really now anything about patronage or on-line dating, but it seems like someone in the know might be able to make something happen.
The problem is, as always, taxes, among other things. Patrons can only give support up to a certain amount before either they or their client has to pay taxes. Things just are not as simple now as they were.

Even then, there is little guarantee of the quality of the work. There are dishonest translators out there, who will bilk you of your cash, leaving you with badly rendered and poorly edited translations, if they even finish the job. There are translators, who while knowing Tibetan, are terrible writers in English, or whose English leaves much to be desired, either by translating too literally, or whose translations are far too interpretive and "poetic," etc.

At least with projects like the 84,000, and books published with Shambhala and Wisdom one is assured that the works have been vetted and peer-reviewed for quality and accuracy, properly edited, and so on, not to mention books published by academic publishers such as Cambridge, Oxford, Columbia, Princeton, Brill, and so on.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

PeterC
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by PeterC » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:36 pm

climb-up wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:10 am
PeterC wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:15 am
If you’re a patron, it can actually be frustratingly hard to find a way to finance translation projects, due to the way that most Dharma charities tend to work.
What!!??? That is really weird!
This seems like something that could be fixed ( ...I assume ...by someone) and have some sort of portal or space for potential patrons and translators to connect.

I don't really now anything about patronage or on-line dating, but it seems like someone in the know might be able to make something happen.
It’s not a problem that technology alone can solve. Suppose you, as a patron, feel it’s really important that the world has a good translation of a particular text. You have to find a translator who has interest in that and experience of similar texts (ideally in the same lineage, if that’s relevant), who has the time to spare, who has guidance from a teacher that will give the lung and be available to address any issues, ideally that translator is part of a group or has some sort of peer guidance, because good editing and reviewing is extremely important (and is also hard, under appreciated work). So the patron, who may not know any translators personally, approaches a Dharma foundation/charity/organization with the idea, but they’re focussed on fundraising for their teachers’ next trip, and any cash left over is going to build a big stupa somewhere because when last asked, their teacher opined that it would be a nice thing to have. They can put you in touch with some translators, but since you as a patron don’t speak TIbetan, how do you know that the translators are any good? And so on. In the meantime, some PhD student at a random university decides to have a go at a partial translation of the text in question as part of their thesis, and does it badly, but thereafter nobody thinks it’s a priority as who wants to spend their very limited time translating something that’s already been done once already...

I’m exaggerating, but not much. It’s just a very difficult problem to fix. So when people decide to commit their time to serious, long-term translation projects of a specific corpus of texts, those who need those texts for their practice ought to go out of their way to support the effort and give the translator all the resources they need to be successful. I speak various languages but unfortunately Tibetan is not one of them. So without the efforts of the translators that render texts into languages I can read, and their predecessors that rendered Sanskrit texts into Tibetan, it would be extremely difficult for me to study and practice the Dharma. Dharma can survive and spread without temples, Dharma centers and golden statues. Without translators, however...

climb-up
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by climb-up » Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:53 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:33 pm

At least with projects like the 84,000, and books published with Shambhala and Wisdom one is assured that the works have been vetted and peer-reviewed for quality and accuracy, properly edited, and so on, not to mention books published by academic publishers such as Cambridge, Oxford, Columbia, Princeton, Brill, and so on.
That makes sense. So then, these are the places for patrons to support?
There wouldn't be any tax limit if donating to a non-profit like 84,000, would there?
PeterC wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:36 pm

It’s not a problem that technology alone can solve. Suppose you, as a patron, feel it’s really important that the world has a good translation of a particular text. You have to find a translator who has interest in that and experience of similar texts (ideally in the same lineage, if that’s relevant), who has the time to spare, who has guidance from a teacher that will give the lung and be available to address any issues, ideally that translator is part of a group or has some sort of peer guidance, because good editing and reviewing is extremely important (and is also hard, under appreciated work). So the patron, who may not know any translators personally, approaches a Dharma foundation/charity/organization with the idea, but they’re focussed on fundraising for their teachers’ next trip, and any cash left over is going to build a big stupa somewhere because when last asked, their teacher opined that it would be a nice thing to have. They can put you in touch with some translators, but since you as a patron don’t speak TIbetan, how do you know that the translators are any good? And so on. In the meantime, some PhD student at a random university decides to have a go at a partial translation of the text in question as part of their thesis, and does it badly, but thereafter nobody thinks it’s a priority as who wants to spend their very limited time translating something that’s already been done once already...

I’m exaggerating, but not much. It’s just a very difficult problem to fix. So when people decide to commit their time to serious, long-term translation projects of a specific corpus of texts, those who need those texts for their practice ought to go out of their way to support the effort and give the translator all the resources they need to be successful. I speak various languages but unfortunately Tibetan is not one of them. So without the efforts of the translators that render texts into languages I can read, and their predecessors that rendered Sanskrit texts into Tibetan, it would be extremely difficult for me to study and practice the Dharma. Dharma can survive and spread without temples, Dharma centers and golden statues. Without translators, however...
Wow! that is extremely complicated, I didn't know.
Of course that makes sense that the focus would be on a teacher's visit, or something that the teacher mentioned is a good idea.
Perhaps we need to get more teachers focused on the importance of translation?
...I don't know.

Pero
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Pero » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:56 pm

jake wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:23 am
I'd also like to say how disheartening it is to see people so readily sharing PDFs of books online. An act which certainly doesn't support the important work of translators.
PeterC wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:15 am
Re online PDFs. Completely agree that copyright theft of this kind both undermines the fragile economics of translation-to-publish and accrues negative karma.
You've fallen for the anti-piracy propaganda put forth by the entertainment industry. In fact, at worst, it does not not support them, it is more likely that the outcome is simply neutral, and at best it provides higher likelihood of more people actually buying the book.
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar

jake
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by jake » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:46 pm

Pero wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:56 pm
jake wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:23 am
I'd also like to say how disheartening it is to see people so readily sharing PDFs of books online. An act which certainly doesn't support the important work of translators.
PeterC wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:15 am
Re online PDFs. Completely agree that copyright theft of this kind both undermines the fragile economics of translation-to-publish and accrues negative karma.
You've fallen for the anti-piracy propaganda put forth by the entertainment industry. In fact, at worst, it does not not support them, it is more likely that the outcome is simply neutral, and at best it provides higher likelihood of more people actually buying the book.
Can you provide any evidence for this claim? Perhaps some of the posters here who have translated works would like to speak to how best we can support their efforts?

I fail to see how following the precept against stealing is falling for "anti-piracy propaganda."
“The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone."

Pero
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Pero » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:11 pm

jake wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:46 pm
Pero wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:56 pm
jake wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:23 am
I'd also like to say how disheartening it is to see people so readily sharing PDFs of books online. An act which certainly doesn't support the important work of translators.
PeterC wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:15 am
Re online PDFs. Completely agree that copyright theft of this kind both undermines the fragile economics of translation-to-publish and accrues negative karma.
You've fallen for the anti-piracy propaganda put forth by the entertainment industry. In fact, at worst, it does not not support them, it is more likely that the outcome is simply neutral, and at best it provides higher likelihood of more people actually buying the book.
Can you provide any evidence for this claim? Perhaps some of the posters here who have translated works would like to speak to how best we can support their efforts?

I fail to see how following the precept against stealing is falling for "anti-piracy propaganda."
I was reffering more to "an act which certainly doesn't support" and "undermines the fragile economics" (there's not much point to debating whether or not it accumulates negative karma). It's simple really. It doesn't follow that one who downloads a pirated book (or anything) does so instead of buying it. Obviously if you want to support a translator's efforts you support him by buying his translations or donating. But this is this and that is that.

Also perhaps of interest: EU withheld a study that shows piracy doesn't hurt sales
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar

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