I have been going through the Pali words in my translation that are still left untranslated, hoping to find a English equivalents for as many as possible. Many of these are customarily left untranslated, sometimes because it is difficult to find adequate renderings in English, but often simply because this has become the convention. It would be good to get some feedback on my attempts so far.
Dhamma: this is most complex word in the Pali Canon, and large number of words are required to render it in its different contexts. So far I have used “qualities,” “principles,” and “legitimately,” the last one being an adjectival use which is common in the Vinaya Piṭaka. However, this leaves Dhamma as a reference to the Teachings of the Buddha. I have tried a few alternatives: (1) the Teaching – this is virtually spot on, but it has the drawback that it clashes with the verbs meaning to teach that are usually used with Dhamma, that is, you tend to get “teaches the Teaching;” (2) doctrine – this is actually a very good word as far as its dictionary meaning is concerned, but I feel it is too dry and has too many associations with dogma; (3) theory – again, too dry and it misses the point that the Dhamma is full of amazing similes and personal anecdotes. I won’t even mention some of the other things I’ve considered! Since I am not satisfied with any of these, I have fallen back on leaving Dhamma untranslated.
Sangha: my preferred rendering for now is “monastic order,” or just “the Order” if the word is repeated frequently within a few paragraphs. I feel it’s important to make the point that in early Buddhism Sangha refers to monastics and not the Buddhist community at large. “Monastic community” would also work, but “order” has a more established sense of a religious community with a special entrance ritual.
Vinaya and pātimokkha: where vinaya refers unambiguously to the Vinaya Piṭaka (this usage is much more common in the Vinaya than in the suttas) I use “monastic law” (otherwise I use “training”), and I render pātimokkha as “monastic code.” The Vinaya Piṭaka is a set of regulations that covers anything from what is prohibited for monastics to procedures to be adopted, and it seems to me that “law” is suitably broad to cover all these nuances. The pātimokkha by contrast – at least the way it has come down to us – it specifically about rules and generally excludes procedures. Although I believe “code” is often used in a more restricted sense than “law” (“a set of conventions or moral principles governing behaviour in a particular sphere”), I am still not sure if it is sufficiently differentiated from “law.”