Yes, Sally. It is exactly as you are saying.Sally Gross wrote: I've just realised that this is in fact the Asokan inscription which was preserved in Kandahar, and which has apparently disappeared. The Wiki link used Hebrew letters to transcribe the Aramaic, but I'd be interested in seeing a transcription into the script which is actually used.
Greek would be a good language for translations, as would Syriac (largely because it borrows philosophical concepts and sometimes terms from Greek). The trouble is that comparatively few people read Greek nowadays, and several orders of magnitude less read Syriac. Ideally, Sanskrit, or Pali or one of the other Sanskrit-related Prakrits would do best of all from the point-of-view of accurate translation of key concepts, given that so much of the Tibetan literature draws on a stock of concepts originally found in Sanskrit; but this hardly helps most of us because few of us know Sanskrit, Pali or cognate languages. That being the case, English probably yields the widest readership and serves the purpose best in practical terms, something for which I, as someone whose first language is English, am grateful. A century or two down the line, who knows which languages might be on the rise and may, pragmatically, be a better vehicle for propagation of this literature than English at that time?
There is NO perfect language for translating the Dharma teaching. There are only proper Precious Vases for accepting and realizing it, or not. Languages and terminologies are depended on the time and the conventional karmic reasons, which always appear and then disappear. Nobody can boast that his mother-tongue is better than other languages.
Although there are some ancient languages on the Earth, which are considered to be the linguistic roots of the others.
As for the transcription of the Asokan inscription, is the following in Greek and Aramaic - including the English translation:
1. δέκα ἐτῶν πληρη[....]ων βασι[λ]εὺς
2. Πιοδασσης εὐσέβεια[ν ἔδ]ε[ι]ξεν τοῖς ἀν-
3. θρώποις, καὶ ἀπὸ τούτου εὐσεβεστέρους
4. τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐποίησεν καὶ πάντα
5. εὐθηνεῖ κατὰ πᾶσαν γῆν• καὶ ἀπέχεται
6. βασιλεὺς τῶν ἐμψύχων καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ δὲ
7. εἲ τινες ἀκρατεῖς πέπαυνται τῆς ἀκρα-
8. σίας κατὰ δύναμιν, καὶ ἐνήκοοι πατρὶ
9. καὶ μητρὶ καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων παρὰ
10. τὰ πρότερον καὶ τοῦ λοιποῦ λῶιον
11. καὶ ἄμεινον κατὰ πάντα ταῦτα
12. ποιοῦντες διάξουσιν.
1. Ten years (of reign) having been completed, King
2. Piodasses (Ashoka) made known (the doctrine of)
3. Piety (εὐσέβεια, Eusebeia) to men; and from this moment he has made
4. men more pious, and everything thrives throughout
5. the whole world. And the king abstains from (killing)
6. living beings, and other men and those who (are)
7. huntsmen and fishermen of the king have desisted
8. from hunting. And if some (were) intemperate, they
9. have ceased from their intemperance as was in their
10. power; and obedient to their father and mother and to
11. the elders, in opposition to the past also in the future,
12. by so acting on every occasion, they will live better
13. and more happily." (Trans. by G.P. Carratelli ])
1. שנן 10 פתתיתו עביד זי מראן פרידארש מלכא קשיטא מהקשט
2. מן אדין זעיר מרעא לכלהם אנשן וכלהם אדושיא השבד
3. ובכל ארקא ראמשתי ואף זי זנה במאכלא למראן מלכא זעיר
4. קטלן זנה למחזה כלהם אנשן אתהחסינן אזי נוניא אחדן
5. אלך אנשן פתיזבת כנם זי פרבסת הוין אלך אתהחסינן מן
6. פרבסתי והופתיסתי לאמוהי ולאבוהי ולמזישתיא אנסנ
7. איך אסרהי חלקותא ולא איתי דינא לכלהמ אנשיא חסין
8. זנה הותיר לכלהמ אנשן ואוסף יהותר.