Last year, I have started translating the five Chinese bhikkhuni patimokkhas of the Mahasanghika, Dharmaguptaka, Mahisasaka, Sarvastivada and Mulasarvastivada schools into English. Unfortunately, I had to stop translating after I had nearly finished the Sanghadisesas because of the Tilorien building project and some other things. But now that Tilorien is nearly finished, I’m back translating!
Some people have asked me to share some of my findings during the translation process, such as quirks in the language, fun facts, mistakes, and anything else of interest here. I’m now in the middle of the nissaggiya pacittiyas, so that’s where I’ll start my comments. If I feel like it, I might add some stuff about parajikas and sanghadisesas later.
Maybe I should describe my translation process first. I translate all the five patimokkhas at the same time, because I’m doing the parallel rules together. This way, I can directly compare all the similarities and differences, and it’s easier to use consistent terminology. I can also determine more easily if differences are just different choices of vocabulary by the Chinese translators, or genuine differences in meaning.
I usually group the rules together in small chunks of about three rules that often cover the same topic, identify the parallels of these three rules in all the patimokkhas, and then translate them together.
If I encounter unclear passages, I try to clarify them with the help of the extant Pali and Sanskrit patimokkhas / vibhangas, or see how previous translators made sense of them. Unfortunately, much of this material has not been translated properly before, and even if it has, previous translators were sometimes equally puzzled by the original texts as I am.