List of word translations, pali->english exclusive one to one correspondence

Continuing the discussion from "happiness" (?): a consistent one-word translation for "sukha" everywhere in the suttas:

Ven. sujato wrote:

I think there is definitely a place for a strict word-for-word translation, just as there is a place for more liberal and interpretive translations.

A word-for-word translation would end up less readable and missing some nuance, but it would be great for search and other NLP tasks.

I’d love to see my translations used as the basis for a specialized text like this. The more people work over it, the more issues are turned up and can be corrected.

Bhante Sujato proposed an excellent idea, and I hope young and new translators out there take advantage of his amazing gift, EBT suttas translated and released in the public domain. Seize the day! Experiment and add new English translations to the community so we can have a richer ecosystem and diversity of interpretations to study.

I’m old and very limited on time and energy, so I’ll only doing deep dives on a few leaves, out of the handful of leaves that make up the EBT (as opposed to all the leaves in all the trees of the forest representing irrelevant (to awakening) Dhammas).

So extending just beyond “sukha”, I will keep a list here, in this first post of the thread periodically updated, of words that I intend to translate consistently with…

exclusive one to one correspondence between English and Pali.

exclusive: means if you see English words in my translation, you can be sure the pali word it matches is what's listed here, you don't have to guess and look up the pali source.

one to one correspondence: doesn’t have to be single word -> single word. For example, I use a hyphenated “undistractable-lucidity” for “samādhi”.

(sorted in english alphabetical order)

  • jhāna -> jhāna
  • passadhi -> pacification, passambhayaṃ -> pacify
  • pīti -> rapture, enrapture, enraptured
  • rāga -> passion, rāga can also mean “color”
  • samādhi -> undistractable-lucidity
  • sati -> remembering, remembrance, rememberful, rememberer
  • sāta -> satisfaction
  • sukha -> pleasure, pleasant, pleasantness
  • upekkha -> equanimous-observation (meditation context recognizes important role of “ikkhati”), equanimity, equanimous
  • vi-rāga -> dis-passion
  • vīriya -> vigor, with vigor, vigorously, in-vigorated

Undecided on these words

  • dukkha -> suffering or pain?
  • kāma -> “sensual-pleasure” in general case, (lustful) sensual-pleasure for specific case
  • pamojja -> gladdening, modati -> gladden?
  • samatha -> stillness or serenity? etam santam etam panitam… sabba sankhara samatho…nibbana.
1 Like

for dukkha: I think I will go with “suffering”, for exclusive use. That is, reserve the english word “suffering” for the pali “dukkha” exclusively, and not use “suffering” to represent any other pali word. And in ambiguous situations, I would clarify with parenthesis the nuance when necessary.

I’m also tempted to use “pain” instead, since it’s a short 4 letter word, and if I have to clarify with parentheses that it’s [mental]-pain it’s much more concise (fewer letters).