I know the following is not a simple matter per se, but I asked this question to another monk via mail and thought it could do more good than harm to also post it here.
In the Buddhaghosuppatti the whole issue as to his nature of work seems to rest on the word parivatteti (PED: to turn round; to turn over) as in such passages as this:
“Nāhaṃ bhante bhikkhusaṅghe sikkhanatthāya Jambudīpato Laṅkādīpaṃ āgato Buddhasāsanaṃ (at another similar passage as buddhavacana) pana Sīhaḷabhāsāya parivattetvā Māgadhabhāsāya likkhanatthāya āgato” – “I have not come to Laṅkādīpa (Sri Lanka) from Jambudīpa (India) to train the community of monks, but with the goal of writing the Buddhist religion, having translated from the Sinhalese.”
Would you consider this passage as unequivocally having to be read as referring to translation as such or would a mere copying or transliteration also be plausible as an interpretation? If an actual translation was done I would find such a thing quite sad news, when we in addition follow modern scholarship. The picture looks a bit gloomy then: We would first have a proposed translating from an Ur-canon into Pāli as such (see Levman, Norman and von Hinüber for example), which was brought to Sri Lanka a couple of hundred years or so later, translated again there into Sinhalese by Mahinda, kept some time in that state, edited and sanskritized at the first writing down, until Buddhaghosa back-translates the scriptures into Pāli (or Māgadhese) … Quite a mess … Can you offer a nicer looking picture? Any other sources where it is said that the scriptures were kept intact until Buddhaghosa?
I much appreciate your time and views about the above.