May this thread be used for discussing alternate translations of popular Pali words.
Popular translation: suffering, stress
Potentially more suitable translation: sadness, unhappiness
Reasoning: in current Indian languages, dukkha and sukha are commonly used simply ordinary words that seem most equivalent to sadness and happiness, sad and happy, etc.
Popular translation: mindfulness
Potentially more suitable translation: memory, carefulness
Reasoning: mindfulness seems to have come from the Judeo-Christian context meaning “keeping the mind full of God.” Furthermore, it doesn’t seem to be a simply, ordinary word that fits with the rest of the seven parts of the eightfold path (view, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, concentration). “According to Robert Sharf, smṛti originally meant “to remember”, “to recollect”, “to bear in mind”, as in the Vedic tradition of remembering the sacred texts. The term sati also means “to remember”.”
Popular translation: meditation
Potentially more suitable translation: cultivation, development
Reasoning: "To explain the cultural context of the historical Buddha’s employment of the term, Glenn Wallis emphasizes bhavana’ s sense of cultivation. He writes that a farmer performs bhavana when he or she prepares soil and plants a seed. Wallis infers the Buddha’s intention with this term by emphasizing the terrain and focus on farming in northern India at the time in the following passage:
I imagine that when Gotama, the Buddha, chose this word to talk about meditation, he had in mind the ubiquitous farms and fields of his native India. Unlike our words ‘meditation’ or ‘contemplation,’ Gotama’s term is musty, rich, and verdant. It smells of the earth. The commonness of his chosen term suggests naturalness, everydayness, ordinariness. The term also suggests hope: no matter how fallow it has become, or damaged it may be, a field can always be cultivated — endlessly enhanced, enriched, developed — to produce a favorable and nourishing harvest.
Bhavana - Wikipedia
Popular translation: craving
Potentially more suitable translation: thirst, psychological thirst
Reasoning: Tanha (Pāli: Taṇhā , also tanha ; Sanskrit: tṛṣṇā , also trishna ) literally means “thirst,” and is commonly translated as craving or desire.
Please feel free to offer feedback for these alternate translations and provide your own ideas and examples regarding this topic here too.