Faithful to Buddha, Faithful to You — Translation Approach

This novel is split into two books with 100 chapters, layered with heavy historical context and Buddhist philosophy. I may be mad, but not mad enough to think I can tackle translating them all with accuracy. I am not even translating from the original language. Given that I still have school/part-time job/internship going on in my life, I also don’t have the time to even attempt such a task.

Alas, here is the approach I am taking with translating this novel:

I am going to have to select chapters to translate. Obviously the ones with important plot points, character development and romance will take precedent. Next are chapters with interesting philosophical Buddhist talks (also somewhat easier to tackle since I took courses in religions before). Finally are chapters which are heavier in history but provide good background on understanding our characters and their environment.

The rest I will do summaries. This may mean an individual chapter summary, or a grouped chapter summary. Even in chapters I decided to translate, I may also skim over certain parts that are either too difficult to translate, too much history, or not necessary to understand the novel.

Finding the pinyin for Han (Chinese) names will be hard, but I will try my best. For names of non-Han characters, if I can find the correct spelling I will use them, but if I can’t or the character appears too briefly then I may just opt for what the Viet translator used. In addition, as I do my history/religion research, if I come across any good resources I will try to include them at the end of the relevant chapter, or in a separate post for further readings.

Since I am doing a secondary translation (not translating from original source), there are also other issues at play. I have no way of knowing Xiao Chun’s actual literary style. I can only emulate Lương Hiền the Viet translator with my own spin. As much as I want to capture the beautiful language and choice of words of the novel, linguistic difference makes it difficult. There will be times when I have to take liberties and not follow a transliteration. [Ironically, Rajiva and Ai Qing had to ponder over this as well]. If appropriate, I will put an endnote explaining my decision.

At all times, if any reader knows Chinese or is well-versed in Chinese history/Buddhism, you are welcome to comment in the relevant chapter on any inaccuracies. Comments on grammar and spelling mistakes are also appreciated. But do remember to be nice about it. Translating without any help or beta reader is hard work.


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