Finding Your Tribe: Dispatches from ALTA 2014 from Fellow Tenzin Dickie

ALTA Blog

Each year 4-6 emerging translators are awarded $1000 each to travel to the ALTA conference, where they participate in panels, workshops, and readings. Applications to be an ALTA fellow are open until June 1. More information here.


The greatest corpus of literature in Tibetan, the Kangyur and Tengyur, are short-form titles for “The Translated Teachings of the Buddha” and “The Translated Commentaries.” The ‘gyur,’ sewn inseparably into the ‘ka’ and ‘ten’, the Teaching and the Commentaries, explicitly marks the translated. Tibetans cannot talk about the canon without calling it “the translated canon.”

For comparison, imagine always referring to the Bible as “the Translated Bible.” But for Tibetans, the fact that these thousands of texts were translations from the Sanskrit, the original liturgical language of the Indian subcontinent and the Latin of Asia, was in fact what gave them legitimacy.

Translation was the great legitimizer. The translators—Drokmi the Translator, Marpa the…

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