MN26 and the missing gold in Sujato's translation

Venerable Sir @sujato,

I am wondering why you decided not to translate “jātarūparajataṃ jātidhammaṃ” in MN26 SC 6.2 and 7.2. The phrase is given in the Pali version:

Partners and children, male and female bondservants, goats and sheep, chickens and pigs, and elephants and cattle are liable to be reborn.

Puttabhariyaṃ, bhikkhave, jātidhammaṃ, dāsidāsaṃ jātidhammaṃ, ajeḷakaṃ jātidhammaṃ, kukkuṭasūkaraṃ jātidhammaṃ, hatthigavāssavaḷavaṃ jātidhammaṃ, jātarūparajataṃ jātidhammaṃ.


There’s an essay on that!


Venerable Sir, let me preface what follows with: I do not want to come across like a spoiled and ungrateful child who does not value your translation. But …

I agree with the explanation given in your essay that it is most likely a textual corruption. But, explanation and translation, I assume, are different tasks. To me it feels, in this case, you are not faithfully translating the source material - as nonsensical as it might be. I believe it should be the task of the critical reader to assess what the text is offering.

Your archenemy - the footnote - might be a good idea in such cases. I am now left wondering where else you might have deviated from the source material without informing the reader.


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Any translator makes choices about their source material based on their considered judgment, and no matter how many footnotes, there are never enough to explain those choices.

Few translators, however, go to the trouble of building software specifically so you can see the original text next to the translation. And few translators make themselves available to answer any questions that arise from this.

I didn’t just explain this in a quick footnote: I wrote an extended essay on it and published it for free, which anyone can see by simply searching “Ariyapariyesana” on this forum. I think that’s pretty good!