SuttaCentral

Volunteer wanted! Help collect author/translator information


#1

So, you’re bored, looking for some way to fill in your time? Look no further!

We host the work of approximately 265 translators on SC. However we don’t have any information about them. Compare the nice list of author biodata on Access to Insight:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/index.html

On our “Languages” pages, we currently have lists of authors, but no further information:

So we would like to have useful biodata for authors where possible.

This is a reasonably extensive research project. Many of the authors are quite obscure, and in many cases it’ll require some ingenuity and dedication to track down info. Even trickier, many of the authors write in languages other than English.

The good news is, though, it doesn’t have to be complete: we just do what we can. This could be a job for a single person or a small team, perhaps working together on a google spreadsheet.

We would make a set of structured data for the authors. This would have a set of fields for things like name, birth/death, languages, works published, bio, etc. This could be done as a spreadsheet or any way that is suitable for you.

We will eventually make it into some structured data, probably RDFa. It can then be used on SC. By using recognized standards, we can also push the information to entities like https://worldcat.org/identities, so that these authors can get the recognition they deserve.


#2

Sign me up! :anjal:


#3

A few links for starters…

Jonathan S. Walters
academic curriculum vitæ

I.B. Horner
wiki page
Buddha Dust page

T.W. Rhys Davids
wiki page
Buddha Dust page

C.A.F. Rhys Davids
wiki page
Buddha Dust page

W.H.D. Rouse
wiki page

Shwe Zan Aung
Nitra Soe Min, A Study on U Shwe Zan Aung, a Prominent Writer who Made the First Translation of Buddha Abhidhamma into English

H.T. Francis
No wiki page. The initials stand for Henry Thomas; he was a fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge; translated many of the Jātakas in the Cowell series and wrote an article translating the Vedabbha Jātaka and comparing it with Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale.

Vedabbha and Chaucer

Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College, 1349-1897

Robert Chalmers
wiki page
Buddha Dust page

John D. Ireland
dhammawiki page

I recall he’s also mentioned in the memoirs of Sangharakshita recounting the early days after his return to England when Ireland was one of his students.

Guang Xing
Academic curriculum vitæ

Laurence Khantipalo Mills
wiki page

Marcus Bingenheimer
Academic curriculum vitæ

home page

Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thera
wiki page

Samuel Beal
wiki page

Bhikkhu Pāsādika
wiki page

Thích Huyên-Vi
Vietnamese temple page

Sara Boin-Webb
obituary

Woodville Rockhill
It should be William Woodville Rockhill
wiki page

Ācāriya Buddharakkhita
wiki page

Frank Lee Woodward
Buddha Dust page

wiki page

Australian Dictionary of Biography

Bhikkhu Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti
wiki page

Bimala Charan Law
I could only find his dates: , 1892-1969

J. Pierquet
home page

U Thittila
Myanmar Net

Choong Mun-keat
academic curriculum vitæ

E.B. Cowell
wiki page

Sāmaṇerī Dhammadinnā
Isn’t she now Bhikkhunī Dhammadinnā, or is this someone else? Anyhow, this is the bhikkhunī’s
academia page

Piyadassi Thera
wiki page

K. Nizamis
His page at the University of Adelaide

Ayya Khema
wiki page

on Leigh Brasington’s site

Dr. Hellmuth Hecker
German wiki page

Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli
wiki page

Nārada Thera
I assume this is the Sri Lankan one, not the Burmese Paṭṭhāna Sayādaw.
wiki page

E.M. Hare
Buddha Dust page

Andrew Olendzki
home page

Bhikkhu Kumāra
dhammawiki page

Sāsanārakkha page

Thích Nhất Hạnh
wiki page

Plum Village page

Mahāmahopādhyāya Satis Chandra Vidyabhusana
wiki page

P.L. Vaidya
obituary

Cheng Jianhua
university page and e-mail

Leigh Brasington
about me

Bhikkhu Sīlācāra
wiki page

Omitted, either because I can’t find anything, or because their biodata is probably already well-known to Sutta Central administrators, or because they are institutions.

Bhikkhu Sujato
Bhikkhu Bodhi
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu Brahmali
Bhikkhu Anālayo
Bhikkhu Ānandajoti
Charles D. Patton II
R.A. Neil
N.J. Smith
Annabel Laity
Ayya Agganyani
Bodhi Translation Committee
Jayarava
Mahinda Thera
Victoria Yareham
Sue Sawyer
John Kelly
Amaravati Sangha
Dr. R.L. Soni


#4

Holy crikey that’s awesome, thanks!

Great!

I should have said, could I ask any potential volunteers to let me know their relevant experience, whether Buddhist, programming, research, academic, or what not. No experience is fine, I just want to get the lay of the land.


#5

@Robbie - As I have been working with many of these translators, please let me know if you have any trouble finding info on any of those. Maybe I can help. Note there are more pages than the English language translation.


#6

Bit of a blast from the past for me seeing some of these names; there are people I knew many moons ago…
In one or two cases, they changed their name and I’m not sure how I feel about linking old and new identities here. May I PM the relevant info to someone?
Also, how can I search the site by translator? I’d be interested to see what these persons translated.
With thanks and mettā.


#7

Sure, PM me if you like. Normally unless someone is working for the CIA, it should be okay to include work under different aliases. But anyway, we don’t want to make problems for anyone, if they prefer not we can just leave it out.

There’s no dedicated search for authors. But you can search the author’s name "in quotes" and it works pretty well.


#8

Hi Bhante,

I can’t commit massive amounts of time but if there’s a team brewing, I’d help when I can…

I enjoy tracking down obscure references, and have some relevant experience: I’ve written and researched a good deal re: artistic adaptations of James Joyce, and co-edit an annual review for the James Joyce Quarterly (published through University of Tulsa) on this subject. I’ve only published one real Buddhist piece, but it was a decent-sized research project – mapping Theravada meditation in the U.S. for Lion’s Roar.


#9

Thanks so much! Well, that is much more professional qualification than I have, so I think we’re good!


#10

Like @sgns, I like tracking down references—and doubly so if it improves SuttaCentral! I enjoy reading journal articles/academic books so I have some experience with finding/accessing relevant sources. Recently helped a friend with her finance MSc thesis with finding references to solve a problem in her methodology (though later it turned out that this problem was caused by a mistake in data processing).

I recently started learning how to do statistical analysis with R (in RStudio). I personally love its data frame functionality. I wonder if I can create RDF data for the authors using R (I found an introduction here: A tidyverse lover’s intro to RDF). I’m open to learning bits of other languages as well if needed.

Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know. :anjal:

Thank you Ayya! I will keep it in mind.


#11

Excellent.

Fantastic. In fact we aim to create data in RDF hthat is compatible with the Tibetan text project BDRC which you can find here:

It’s up to the workers to figure out the best way of doing things. As a first run, I imagine data something like this.

  • primary-name: Bhikkhu Brahmali
  • other-name: Dude
  • slug-name: brahmali
  • lang-from: Pali
  • lang-to: Hybrid Norwegian
  • role: translator
  • title: Ajahn
  • DoB: 1964
  • DoD: ?
  • external-publications: https://url-to-collected-works
  • organization: Bodhinyana Monastery
  • organization-website: bswa.org
  • role in corporation: co-Vice Abbot
  • qualifications: MBA
  • bio: “Ajahn Brahmali was born in Norway in 1964. He first became interested in Buddhism and meditation in his early 20s after a visit to Japan. Having completed degrees in engineering and finance, he began his monastic training as an anagarika (keeping the eight precepts) in England at Amaravati and Chithurst Buddhist Monastery. After hearing teachings from Ajahn Brahm he decided to travel to Australia to train at Bodhinyana Monastery. Ajahn Brahmali has lived at Bodhinyana Monastery since 1994, and was ordained as a Bhikkhu, with Ajahn Brahm as his preceptor, in 1996. In 2015 he will be entered his 20th Rains Retreat as a fully ordained monastic and received the title Maha Thera (Great Elder).”
  • extended-bio: https://url-to-extended-bio-eg-wikipedia
  • contact: email@if.public
  • homepage: https://url-to-personal-website
  • source: Place(s) where this information came from.

#12

It’s probably best to go from the already existing data because that is used for SC own references already. All info on primary-name and slug-name (uid) are already there.


#13

Intrigued to see what you’ll find out on the bio of these authors! :star_struck:

{
“type”: “author”,
“uid”: “galadriel”,
“short_name”: “Galadriel”,
“long_name”: “Galadriel”
},
{
“type”: “author”,
“uid”: “spock”,
“short_name”: “Spock”,
“long_name”: “Mr. Spock”
},
{
“type”: “author”,
“uid”: “worf”,
“short_name”: “Worf”,
“long_name”: “Worf”
},


#14

Well, she has a history that stretches back to Valinor in the days before the First Age, so it’ll be an extensive bio!

Indeed, I was just about to get into this when I had to go give a talk!


#15

I think the challenge here is to summarize the bio:


#16

Just reviving this thread, I’ve let it slide for a while, but I’m hoping we can get started. It seems that @robbie and @sgns have volunteered, and a few others are contributing as well, so that is great. I think a two-person team should be fine for this job.

If you still want to contribute, we need to figure out how to work. Not knowing your backgrounds or experience, I’m not sure what the best approach would be. Some options:

  1. Google spreadsheets: we could enter the data, collaborate, define fields how we like, and so on.
  2. A more dedicated app? Something like Zotero maybe, which is designed for this sort of thing? But I don’t have any experience with it.

At the end of the day, the data will be kept in a plain text data format like json, so the crucial thing is that we have well-defined key/value pairs, as in the example I gave above.

Anyway, shall we get this party started?


#17

I’m excited to get started! :grinning:

I noticed that slugs may have multiple associated authors (e.g. sujato-walton). Perhaps it would be best to have two tables: one which lists the author or authors for each slug and one which contains more information about individual authors.

I’m in favor of Google spreadsheets; it should be able to do the job and offers good collaboration features.


#18

Well, the first one these things is already in the files above. But what we should make sure is that in the case of collaborative translations, each author is also listed independently. So we should have;

sujato-walton
sujato
walton

Okay, well that would be great.

I’m sure there will be a lot of constraints in the source material: some things hard to find or impossible, different kinds of information for each author, and so on. We shall probably have to proceed by bearing in mind:

  1. What we want, what is useful for us
  2. What is actually available
  3. What is idiomatic in something like RDF

There are degrees of structure. We could, at the loosest, simply dump each bio in a field. Or at the other extreme, every individual piece of information could be assigned to a key/value pair. We’ll probably end up somewhere in the middle: important and standard bits of information (DoB, name, etc.) end up as specific data fields, more general things have a general “biography” field.


#19

Hi Bhante @sujato and @Robbie
Great. I don’t have a good sense of where to begin re: structure, key/value pairs, etc., but I’m sure I can learn whatever system we decide upon. I’m fine with Google Sheets for now.

What you write about structure makes sense, Bhante. Sounds like we want to gather info that includes but also extends beyond what Ven. @Vimala posted above (i.e. DOB and death). Perhaps we want to know what primary regions a person taught/wrote in? Will we need to compile a short bio blurb as well as a longer version?

Bhante @sujato do you have an example of a really good author info page/entry we can use as our ideal benchmark?


#20

Great, the only thing we need do for now is to ensure that the right data is entered in the right column in the spreadsheet. But we don’t need to go nuts, the main thing is to have a nicely written short bio. Edit for clarity and spelling, etc.

Sure, a place would be good.

No, keep the bios somewhat short, and link to a longer version (like Wikipedia) if necessary. The length of the bio should be comparable to the length of the “blurbs” that accompany each sutta: a tweet, not an article.

I’m not sure, but you can have a look at this Tibetan site:

https://www.tbrc.org/#!persons

Here is an example from the Internet Archive:

We are going to find that the hard part will be tracking down the info. This will be especially hard for languages other than English. So we’re going to need to put on our detective hats and do some sleuthing. At the end of the the day, anything is better than nothing.


I have started a Google sheet. @robbie, you’ll need a gmail address to sign in and edit.