Dear Most Venerable Amazing Awesome (etc) Bhante @sujato,
In reading SN 46.51 I noticed that e.g. uddhaccakukkuccassa (a singular?) was translated as the unhyphenated (dual) “restlessness and remorse” in English.
Now this is not a problem itself. The Pāli term is a broad compound and it makes sense to translate it as such. No, my issue is much more minor: the rest of the sentence was written as if that term were grammatically singular:
And what fuels the arising of restlessness and remorse, or, when it has arisen, makes it increase and grow?
It became a bit difficult to for me to read at first: “wait… what is ‘it’ referring to? Oh, I guess both restlessness and remorse?”
So here’s my request: please replace “it (has)” with “them / they have” in these cases (_ thinamiddhassa_, etc) where the English pronoun (it) is actually referring to what (in English) are multiple things.
And what fuels the arising of restlessness and remorse, or, when they have arisen, makes them increase and grow?
It seems to only occur in a couple of places, and sometimes was correct already, so I believe it is fixed now. But yeah, keeping these things 100% consistent is not easy.
More of a musing, but I wonder whether we should distinguish between things that are a pair or list of items and things that are mere synonyms. Without wishing to invoke the dread “Ajahn Ampersand”, perhaps:
restlessness and remorse
dullness & drowsiness
The latter pair aren’t really distinguished, whereas the former definitely are. Of course there are grey areas.
It is a dvanda compound, i.e. a list of things made into one word. Pali is happy to compound words much more readily than English. The compound is treated as singular, even when it includes multiple elements.
Well, “out of balance repentance” is not a meaningful phrase in English. A translation translates, it does not merely substitute one word for another.
In context, uddhacca does not mean “out of balance”, it means “restlessness” or something similar. Nor does kukkucca mean “reprentance”. To repent is to perform an act of seeking forgiveness. That might be done as a result of feeling kukkucca, but it is not the same thing. Kukkucca refers to a feeling of disquiet or worry over something one has done or left undone in the past. For example, violating precepts, or failing to practice given the opportunity.
This is not a translation, it is a word glossary.
Translation is about conveying meaning. If someone wants to understand the linguistic structure of the Pali, they have to study Pali. For that, making a word glossary can be useful. But translation of a text and linguistic analysis of a text are two different things.
If you’re thinking of translation, don’t think in terms of one word mapping on to one word. That’s not how language works. You have to understand the idea in the source language, then understand how that idea is expressed in the target language. Sometimes the two languages use similar means to do that, sometimes they don’t. Analyze the source language first, get the details right. That’s the easy part. The hard part is, how would that be best expressed in the target language?
Note that, while this is just a matter of choice, I changed the long-standing rendering of pahāna from “abandon” to “give up”. The reason is that in normal English idioms, we normally abandon something in a negative sense: “the plan proved unworkable and was abandoned”. When relinquishing something in a positive sense, we say: “I finally managed to give up cigarettes!”