It was translated by Śikṣānanda (實叉難陀, 652–710), so it's not one of these super early texts.Queequeg wrote: ↑Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:51 pmWell, did not know that. That is very interesting. Makes for translating into English a terribly labored exercise... Where does the Avatamsaka fall in this spectrum?Coëmgenu wrote: ↑Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:48 pmLuckily, though, this is Buddhist Chinese. This is no excuse not to educate one's self on the finer points of Chinese grammar. I will be the first to say that I do not have exhaustive grasp of this, my earlier mistake involving 中 testifying to that (that mistake would be a very pertinent example of stringing characters together with a fast-and-loose notion of how they rightly ought to relate). However, Buddhist Chinese generally imitates Sanskrit inasmuch as it is able to in word ordering, although sometimes Chinese authors had a rather fanciful notion of what Sanskrit word ordering implies.
I was just listening to one of the links Admin_PC left substantiating this curious detail of the dharma-in-Chinese.
http://www.hf.uio.no/ikos/forskning/net ... 10301.html
This effect is even more striking and even more starker the older you go into the history of Chinese translations of the Buddhadharma, to the point where one can line up EBTs with their Sanskrit/Pāli parallels and draw clause-for-clause, and very frequently word-for-word correspondences between Sinitic and Indic recensions (at the price of making the texts very difficult to understand to a native Chinese speaker). Obviously this is not nearly as striking in the works of, say, translators like Ven Kumarajiva, who translate for the Chinese rather than translating into Chinese.
Either way, we are working with very small fragments, clauses rather than full complex phrases. I think we can be trusted with a few character-relations.
I'm referring to things like this, this is from a very old (~200AD) Sarvāstivāda Saṃyuktāgama translation:
Iti ajjhattaṃ vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati
Evaṃ adhyātmaṃ kāye kāyānupaśyi viharaty
Iti 如 evam
ajjhattaṃ 內 adhyātmaṃ
kāye 身 kāye
kāya 身 kāya
anupassī 觀 anupaśyi
viharati 住 viharaty
It is literally Prākrit written with Chinese characters. And, like mentioned before, it is quite difficult to read. The grammatical differentiation between kāya & kāye, for instance, is absent. One could not really read this easily (compared to a "properly Chinese" text) without access to the original as well, or at least knowledge of it.
A lot of Buddhist Chinese looks to this as a stylistic ideal, but most well-established definitive translations of mainline East Asian Mahāyāna sūtrāṇi come from a latter period than this.