To acquire the necessary skills for the comprehension and translation of texts written in classical Tibetan, the ‘language of the Dharma’ codified at the height of the Tibetan Empire and since then used for more than a millennium to transmit the Buddhist teachings of Liberation in verbal form. This was the aim of the 14th Classical Tibetan Translation Course for Intermediate and Advanced Students, organized by the Shang Shung Institute Austria and held in the Merigar West Library from the 16th to the 31st of July. The course was under the guidance of professor Fabian Sanders, teacher of Tibetan Language at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and author of the first Classical Tibetan Language grammar published in Italian, with Margherita Pansa, the Merigar West librararian, providing technical assistance.
The students, who came from all over the world, were divided into two groups, according to their ability in the use of the language.
The students of the Intermediate group, who had a basic knowledge of the language, exercised in sessions of translating different kinds of texts, ranging from a biography to the meditation manual of a philosophical text on the Great Perfection. The translations were then checked by professor Sanders, who gave explanations on the translation techniques and on the particularities of the grammar and the use of language found in the texts.
The students of the Advanced course, fully autonomous regarding language comprehension, worked on translations of complete texts together with the professor. This method of working, which focused on collaboration between the students, allowed the students to compare different opinions and proved to be particularly useful in dealing with the complexity of interpretation that characterises the Tibetan Language.
The collaboration between the students also helped in creating a relaxed atmosphere throughout the course.
After the course, the training process will continue for the whole year with a series of translation weekends on Skype during which there will be a collective review of translations previously made by the students, in order to strengthen both individual translation skills and the working ability of the team.