Translatorhood

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Malcolm
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Malcolm » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:28 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?
Support us directly, this puts money in our pocket and buy our books in a legal way, as this supports the companies that publish our works. We translators receive very little remuneration for our work, and publishers can only give us very small advances. Thus, without direct support from you, the interested reading public, there sure won't be many texts published.
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

jake
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by jake » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:51 pm

Pero wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:11 pm
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
Thanks Pero. I was curious about examples because in my mind we're talking about two very different scales. Popular music with million or so album sales and a few thousand copies of a Sutra or practice text (not talking about the more mainstream pop-dharma books). Perhaps of interest for you, http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-col ... -copyright

fwiw, CEPR is one of my favorite think tanks.
“The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone."

jake
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by jake » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:57 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:28 pm
jake wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:46 pm
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?
Support us directly, this puts money in our pocket and buy our books in a legal way, as this supports the companies that publish our works. We translators receive very little remuneration for our work, and publishers can only give us very small advances. Thus, without direct support from you, the interested reading public, there sure won't be many texts published.
Thanks Malcolm. In regard to an earlier comment regarding patrons/taxes and your comment here about "support us directly" can you expand a bit? Do you mean a direct cash contribution to you as an individual or rather a charitable donation to a registered not-for-profit that works on supporting translators/translations. I ask because I would like to find a way to further support the important translation work needed for some specific Buddhist traditions.

The economics of getting an established publisher to edit, layout, print and distribute books in traditions with a limited Western audience can be a real headache. I imagine this is what lead to the establishment of some of the publishers you've mentioned previous?

Enjoying this thread though I apologize for pulling it slightly off-topic.

jake
“The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone."

Terma
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Terma » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:03 pm

Although some western practitioners may understand and read Tibetan the majority of us don't, including myself. I therefore owe a great debt of gratitude to those who both translate our texts and the live teachings given by our Guru's. So I also encourage everyone to support translators and their projects and when it comes time for the khata offering at the end of a teaching, don't forget to give donation to the translator as well if possible. At the very least let's remember to thank them, as they make it possible for us to connect with genuine teachings in our own languages.

:anjali:

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Malcolm
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Malcolm » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:15 pm

jake wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:57 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:28 pm
jake wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:46 pm
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?
Support us directly, this puts money in our pocket and buy our books in a legal way, as this supports the companies that publish our works. We translators receive very little remuneration for our work, and publishers can only give us very small advances. Thus, without direct support from you, the interested reading public, there sure won't be many texts published.
Thanks Malcolm. In regard to an earlier comment regarding patrons/taxes and your comment here about "support us directly" can you expand a bit? Do you mean a direct cash contribution to you as an individual or rather a charitable donation to a registered not-for-profit that works on supporting translators/translations. I ask because I would like to find a way to further support the important translation work needed for some specific Buddhist traditions.
In the United States, anyone may gift anyone else up to 13,000 (the amount changes yearly) without either you or the person who is receiving the gift needing to report it to the Feds. It is thus better to make gifts directly. If you pass it through a nonprofit, the amount the nonprofit tenders the recipient is treated as earned income and taxed accordingly.

The economics of getting an established publisher to edit, layout, print and distribute books in traditions with a limited Western audience can be a real headache. I imagine this is what lead to the establishment of some of the publishers you've mentioned previous?
Yes, though of course Wisdom is a non-profit, Shambhala is a regular corporation, and then Universities have their own thing.

If you want to support the general publication of Dharma books, a donation to Wisdom is a good idea, and if you want to support a given tradition, an earmarked donation is what I recommend. If you want to support a translator directly, then, directly gifting them money up to the untaxed amount is the way to go.
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 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:23 am

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.
Not really. Most of the economic analysis on the impact of piracy is done on popular music sales, and this is confounded by a material change in the distribution method as digital music became popular - i.e., iTunes, which has secure DRM - which has caused a lot of academic debate about which effects are really being measured in this analysis. Moreover the economic model for the music label is radically different from that for the book publisher. The label can effectively variabilize the fixed cost of developing and marketing an artist through all the usual contractual tricks (cross-collateralization, recoupment, etc.) whereas a publisher works on an book-by-book advance system, and the fixed costs for a print run are non-fungible by definition.

Moreover even if the argument that piracy doesn't reduce sales is true for chart music, it's a huge stretch to extend that to speciality-interest books with small print runs, where the fixed costs are considerably higher. The analogy I'd look at here would instead be orphan drugs. There are certain diseases that have sufficiently small populations that it isn't economically viable for drug manufacturers to do the R&D to develop treatments within the normal patent framework. So in the US, the government offers special treatment for these drugs, that in effect amount to a form of subsidy to lower the cost of bringing them to market and therefore ensure that they are available.

tl:dr: I respectfully disagree with your analogy. Translators and their publishers need to get paid, or we won't have as many texts to read.

PeterC
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by PeterC » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:29 am

climb-up wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:53 pm
...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?
What I do, which I'd recommend to others, is that I try to donate directly to the translators who are working on texts I specifically need for my practice - if you contact the organizations they work with it's generally possible to do this anonymously. I also make sure I pre-order the nicest hardback editions of texts that I want to read. Honestly it's a trivial cost compared to what students in centuries past went through to gain access to important texts.

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Thomas Amundsen
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:00 am

PeterC wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:29 am
Honestly it's a trivial cost compared to what students in centuries past went through to gain access to important texts.
Or what all students in America pay to educate themselves on worldly topics.

Pero
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Pero » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:24 pm

jake wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:51 pm
Pero wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:11 pm
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
Thanks Pero. I was curious about examples because in my mind we're talking about two very different scales. Popular music with million or so album sales and a few thousand copies of a Sutra or practice text (not talking about the more mainstream pop-dharma books). Perhaps of interest for you, http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-col ... -copyright

fwiw, CEPR is one of my favorite think tanks.
I'm not sure I understand that article correctly. Are they proposing that a regular person could give $75-100 into a kind of "support creative work fund" that would be tax deductible? And from that fund artists, writers etc. would receive money? In return, the content they'd create would be free?

As for the difference between music and copies of a Sutra etc. I don't believe there is one as I will explain below.
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

Pero
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Pero » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:47 pm

PeterC wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:23 am
Moreover even if the argument that piracy doesn't reduce sales is true for chart music, it's a huge stretch to extend that to speciality-interest books with small print runs, where the fixed costs are considerably higher. The analogy I'd look at here would instead be orphan drugs. There are certain diseases that have sufficiently small populations that it isn't economically viable for drug manufacturers to do the R&D to develop treatments within the normal patent framework. So in the US, the government offers special treatment for these drugs, that in effect amount to a form of subsidy to lower the cost of bringing them to market and therefore ensure that they are available.

tl:dr: I respectfully disagree with your analogy. Translators and their publishers need to get paid, or we won't have as many texts to read.
The article says that the study included books and found "As for the other industries that rely on copyright (games, books and music), the study found "no robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online piracy."

Don't understand the drug development analogy. Drugs are physical objects that cannot be multiplied infinitely like online content. If someone took a drug from the manufacturer, that would constitute a loss (theoretically).

The reason why there is no difference between music and special interest books is that the people who cannot afford to buy will not buy in any case. People who download them and can afford to buy them on the other hand, may buy them if they are sufficiently interested or found them sufficiently beneficial. If they are not sufficiently interested in the first place they would not have bought them even if they weren't available online. However one may become interested after downloading and perusing the book for a while too.

My point is not that translators don't need to get paid, my point is that the loss of their income due to online piracy is pretty much imaginary and that (in the best case) it's instead possible for them to actually get more support due to wider dissemination.
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

PeterC
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:38 pm

Re: Translatorhood

Post by PeterC » Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:31 pm

Pero wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:47 pm
Don't understand the drug development analogy. Drugs are physical objects that cannot be multiplied infinitely like online content. If someone took a drug from the manufacturer, that would constitute a loss (theoretically).
The marginal cost of producing additional units of a drug is trivially small. The fixed cost of developing it and getting it through trials is huge. The institution of drug patents exists to spread the cost of developing the drug across the units sold in its lifetime, so as to recoup the fixed cost. It’s a pretty good analogy for a book, where the fixed cost of writing/proofreading/typesetting etc. Is high, and the marginal cost of creating electronic copies is effectively zero - physically copies have a higher marginal cost (it incurs semi-variable costs because print runs are effectively batch manufacturing). Indeed there are analogies between the legal mechanisms that protect this recovery of fixed costs - patents in the case of drugs, and copyright in the case of books - the legal motivations differ, but the economic effect is comparable.
The reason why there is no difference between music and special interest books is that the people who cannot afford to buy will not buy in any case. People who download them and can afford to buy them on the other hand, may buy them if they are sufficiently interested or found them sufficiently beneficial. If they are not sufficiently interested in the first place they would not have bought them even if they weren't available online. However one may become interested after downloading and perusing the book for a while too.
It’s not a ‘can/cannot afford to buy’. Books form part of a larger bundle of things we consume. For the majority of people, it’s a tradeoff between buying a book and eating at a nicer restaurant or buying a better pair of shoes (for example). If people consider free digital downloads to be an acceptable substitute for buying but at a lower cost, of course in the short-run they will do that. The point of the discussion on this thread is in part to explain to consumers of these books that doing that will lower their short-run cost of books, but also decrease the long-run availability of new books.
My point is not that translators don't need to get paid, my point is that the loss of their income due to online piracy is pretty much imaginary and that (in the best case) it's instead possible for them to actually get more support due to wider dissemination.
Two problems with that. First, the people downloading free books are generally not providing monetary support by means of donations to the translators. So wider dissemination of texts for free does not put food on the translators’ tables. Second, there’s a lot more happening in creating a book than just the translation (even if the translation is the most important part) - there’s editing, proofreading, typesetting etc., and of course if you want physical copies to exist, then printing, and you need publishers (or people fulfilling the functions of publishers) for all that to happen. If there is no means to profit from publishing, then none of that exists. Publishing special-interest books is challenging enough for publishers as the circulation is small and margins very thin. Not-for-profit or subsidised publishers have the same issue, they just have a lower effective break-even point (and the analogy of orphan drugs is that the government chooses to lower the break-even point on them to encourage more drug companies to develop them).

Translating dharma texts is not a way to get rich. Translators are doing something that benefits others but actually not themselves - bear in mind that they can already read the texts in the original language, by the time they’re able to do a translation, they don’t actually need it for their practice. While I believe we should strengthen the mechanisms to support them financially outside of profit from publishing, at the same time we should not undermine that profit stream.

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Grigoris
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Grigoris » Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:37 pm

I spent a couple of years translating the abridged Dialogues of King Milinda (Menander) into Greek (imagine that a text which describes the conversation between an Ancient Hellenic ruler and a Buddhist monk had never been translated into Greek) and when I went to a publishing company they asked me to pay 3000 euro to publish it. I would have gotten some free copies in return and placement of the book plus tour expenses for it's promotion.

Now some time has passed and the "Macedonian" (non) issue is back (remember that King Milinda was a progeny of Alexander the Great's imperial wars) in focus and the same publisher wants to send the book to print, no talk about money yet...
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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florin
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by florin » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:56 pm

Over the years I have wondered about the value of translating Dharma from English into ones native language.
The nature of diverse phenomena is non-dual. This means that both pure vision and impure vision are a manifestation of the energy of the primordial state. Even though in reality there is no duality, everything manifests separately. KG

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Grigoris
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Grigoris » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:01 pm

florin wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:56 pm
Over the years I have wondered about the value of translating Dharma from English into ones native language.
What is there to wonder about? You think it is better if Dharma texts did not exist unless translated from a "Dharma language". You think there is more value in them not being translated at all?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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florin
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by florin » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:13 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:01 pm
florin wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:56 pm
Over the years I have wondered about the value of translating Dharma from English into ones native language.
What is there to wonder about? You think it is better if Dharma texts did not exist unless translated from a "Dharma language". You think there is more value in them not being translated at all?
Yes, something like that.
Translating from english we always translate someone else's interpretation. But in some way the same could be said about translating commentaries from the source language unless we translate scriptures whose body of text remained pure, unchanged over the centuries since its origins. But then most of these scriptures come from indian sources.
So in the end, the argument for wanting to translate only texts that have remained pure and only from a dharma-source language doesn't hold much water.
The nature of diverse phenomena is non-dual. This means that both pure vision and impure vision are a manifestation of the energy of the primordial state. Even though in reality there is no duality, everything manifests separately. KG

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Grigoris
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Re: Translatorhood

Post by Grigoris » Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:17 am

florin wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:13 pm
Yes, something like that.
Translating from english we always translate someone else's interpretation. But in some way the same could be said about translating commentaries from the source language unless we translate scriptures whose body of text remained pure, unchanged over the centuries since its origins. But then most of these scriptures come from indian sources.
So in the end, the argument for wanting to translate only texts that have remained pure and only from a dharma-source language doesn't hold much water.
Indeed. Anyway, all texts are an interpretation. Even the "first" text is an interpretation of the initial writers experience/knowledge/realisation.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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