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Translating Buddhism From Tibetan: An Introduction To The Tibetan Literary Language And The Translation Of Buddhist Texts From Tibetan [Hardcover]

Joe B. Wilson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 85.00
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Book Description

Jan. 1 1992
This complete textbook on classical Tibetan is suitable for beginning or intermediate students. It begins with rules for reading writing and pronouncing Tibetan, gradually carrying the reader through the patterns seen in the formation of words and into the repeating patterns of Tibetan phrases, clauses, and sentences. Students with prior experience will find the seven appendices—which review the rules of pronunciation grammar and syntax—provide an indispensable reference. It balances traditional Tibetan grammatical and syntactic analysis with a use of terminology that reflects English preconceptions about sentence structure. Based on the system developed by Jeffrey Hopkins at the Unversity of Virginia, this book presents in lessons with drills and reading exercises a practical introduction to Tibetan grammar syntax and technical vocabulary used in Buddhist works on philosophy and meditation. An extremely well designed learning system, it serves as an introduction to reading and translating and to Buddhist philosophy and meditation. Through easily memorizable paradigms the student comes to recognize and understand the recurrent patterns of the Tibetan language. Each chapter contains a vocabulary full of helpful Buddhist terms.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as it looks July 7 2003
The first 5 or 6 Chapters are very useful for the Beginner but afterwards it becames increasingly difficult. It hard to understand the explanations on more advance grammar. I think that unnecesarilly tries to explain many concepts instead of teaching the howto of the language as in the first part. I think I should be reworked (at least the last part) in order to make the student to be able to use the grammar at least for some basic reading. I think I should include more practical examples of reading and interpreting texts. Vocabulary alone is not enough. So I guess that considering the few book about this subject this is a good one after all despite the shortcomings.
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I have very mixed feelings about this book, but feel compelled to give it 4 stars nonetheless. Why? Because what you can get here, you simply can't get anywhere else. The only other decent introduction to Classical Tibetan that exists (so far as I know) is that by Stephen Hodge, and it is much smaller and will simply not give you the depth of grammatical knowledge of vocabulary that this book can. Some reviewers have complained about the "Tenglish" approach, but I can't really think of any other way to present Tibetan grammar in a comprehensible way. Goldstein does the same thing, though less explicitly, in his "Essentials of Modern Literary Tibetan" (in all the transliterations) and it works for me.

Another reviewer commented that the book is overly pedantic in its detailed explanations and grammatical quibbling - well, what does one expect from a 700-page tome on archaic (more or less) philosophical grammar and vocabulary? You didn't think Classical Tibetan was going to be a walk in the park did you? In any case you can simply skip over the details when Wilson gets a little too in depth.

The major problem with this book as I see it is that it is fairly unbalanced. Meaning, in the first 7 chapters or so there are essentially no sentence/vocabulary exercises, leaving you to somehow (by rote, was my method) memorize some 150-200 terms that are introduced (and not easy ones - 'non-associated compositional factors' comes up, e.g.). This improves though, with quite a few exercises in the later chapters. This added context and required practice/effort really helps you to memorize the vocab and understand the grammar better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Basic for leaning Tibetan Dec 12 2002
By A Customer
Very useful book for learners with a constructive introduction to Tibetan sentence structure and a useful basic vocabulary for classical Tibetan. Start with this book if you want to learn to read Tibetan and get a good basis. With the next edition please give us a lighter version an add an index!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Less enthused May 22 2000
I am less enthused about this massive tome than the other reviewers. I have a feeling that the book has failed to make the transition from a very lively university course to a textbook. The approach using all the different 'dimensions' is rather idiosyncratic. There problem is that there are few other choices when it comes to Tibetan textbooks. There is a heavy reliance for examples on the literature of logic. In my opinion more examples from practice-related material would have been useful. Too much reliance is placed on traditional Tibetan grammar for my liking. And that romanisation is unnecessarily complex. Still, it is a very significant work, and inspite of its short-comings, is still the best in this small field.
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