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ZMBM in Esperanto discussion



10-20-12 - JW decided to translate Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind into Esperanto. He got this far:

10-23-12 - Andrew Main, who knows some Esperanto, responded (below) with another translation of the same passage from Huston Smith's Preface and another passage from Shunryu Suzuki.

10-20-12 - JW decided to translate Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind into Esperanto. He got this far:

Du Suzkis.

Duono jarcent ago en a transloĝiĝi tio estas simila en historio al la transloĝiĝi de Aristotle kaj de Plato Daisetz Suzuki preni Zen al la okcidento. Do Shunryu Suzuki fari io preskaŭ kiel grava. En lia nur libro li fari la noto Amerikano voli en Zen bezoni al aŭdi.

DC: That's obviously Huston Smith's introduction which starts "Two Suzukis."

JW wrote: I used an online translator but I realized I was doing a terrible job of it and decided it would be of no value to anyone.

DC: When I wrote JW that I would post this as an important addition to the archive, He responded:

Sentient beings everywhere will never forgive you

See his followup


10-23-12 - Andrew Main wrote:

Having long been interested in Esperanto (since I discovered it in high school over 50 years ago), even once taken a course to learn it (in 1981, in San Francisco, the teacher was a native speaker*), I was naturally intrigued that someone was apparently trying to translate Zen Mind into that language.

*(How can there be a "native" speaker of an artificial language? My teacher's parents had met through Esperanto, had no other language in common, so that was the household language, and the first he learned.)

Well, the little bit your correspondent did was a rather poor translation. I am far from fluent, but can sort-of read the language (it's pretty easy once you have some basics), and this is actually surprisingly bad. I don't know what on-line translator he used, but I tried Google's, and its product was actually pretty good, requiring only a few tweaks to be pretty-much correct (see below).

First, though, there's a problem with text encoding. There are no letters 'ĝ' and 'ŭ' in Esperanto; these appear on your Web page (instead of the correct Esperanto accented letters) because it's encoded in the archaic character set (charset) ISO-8859-1, sometimes known as ASCII, which can handle only the most basic accented letters for Western European languages - more.

It's unfortunate that LL Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto, chose to use accented letters to represent sounds (such as the sound we spell 'ch') not available in the standard 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, and even more unfortunate that he chose to use accents in ways they are not used in any other language (such as the circumflex ˆ over consonants; as a result first conventional typewriters and printers, and then computer systems, have had difficulty working with the language.

The original ASCII character set used in computers, based on the standard typewriter keyboard, didn't include Esperanto's accented letters, so a couple of workarounds were invented. One was to add the letter 'x' after a letter that would usually have an accent, e.g. 'cx' for c^. Another (actually proposed by Zamenhof himself in the early days) was to add 'h' in the same way: 'gh' for 'g^'; this becomes a little confusing in some cases, e.g. 'gh' appears in Italian but is pronounced differently than 'gh (g^) in Esperanto, and awkward (visually anyway) in the case of 'h^', which would be written 'hh' (though this letter is little used nowadays, mostly replaced with 'k'). Since 'x' is not otherwise used in Esperanto, the "x-convention" is mostly preferred nowadays in situations where the corrected accented letters cannot be used. - more

However, since the early 00s, there has been a much better solution, the Unicode system, which is designed to allow representation of nearly all the languages/scripts of the world in computer systems. Since the mid-00s most of the Internet has been based on Unicode, as have most computer operating systems. I would suggest that you start using it for cuke.com, especially as you are often working with non-English material (i.e. at least bits of Japanese here and there -- which generally work out okay, but you might as well catch up with the world anyway). I don't know exactly how to do this, not having done any Web creation work myself, but what you want is "charset=UTF-8" rather than ISO-8859-1. more on Unicode and UTF-8

I don't know which version of Windows you're using (or which version of Windows was first fully Unicode-compliant), but I'm guessing that the ĝ's appeared as something else, possibly g^, in the "Esperanto" text in the email the guy sent you, as your email client is very likely Unicode-savvy. If it isn't, then the Esperanto accented letters in this email won't appear correctly either.

Anyway, here is a somewhat better translation. It may still contain a few grammatical errors, and probably could be polished up by a real Esperanto speaker into fluent Esperanto. Translating the actual book, with all Suzuki's subtle use and "misuse" of English, would be a real challenge.

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Du Suzukioj. Al duona jarcento antau(e, en transplanto kiu estis komparita en historia graveco al la latinaj tradukoj de Aristotelo en la dektria jarcento, kaj de Platono en la dek-kvina, Daisetz Suzuki alportis Zen al Okcidento sola-mane. Kvindek jarojn poste, Shunryu Suzuki faris iun preskau( tiel grava. En c^i tiu lia sola libro li sonis g^uste la sekva noto Usonanoj interesitaj en zen bezonas au(di.

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In this Esperanto text, the sixth word, antau(e, should contain a letter 'u' with a little cup over it. This letter appears twice more, along with both a 'c' and a 'g' with circumflex accents. If these letters don't appear correctly, your email client is not Unicode-savvy, and I'll have to send you this text some other way. Let me know. If you want to bother.

Just for grins, here's another passage, by Suzuki himself:

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Dogen-zenji diris, "Shoshaku jushaku.'' Shaku g^enerale signifas "eraro" au( "malbono." Shoshaku jushaku signifas "sekvi malbono kun malbono," au( unu kontinua eraro. Lau( Dogen, unu kontinua eraro povas ankau( esti Zen. Vivo de Zen majstro povus diri esti tiel multaj jaroj de shoshaku jushaku. Tio signifas tiom da jaroj de unu sole-mensa penado.

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This one was harder, with slightly complicated conditional and passive constructions. I'm sure it could be improved by a real Esperanto speaker. Anyway, here it is.

Dogen-zenji said, "Shoshaku jushaku.'' Shaku generally means "mistake" or "wrong." Shoshaku jushaku means "to succeed wrong with wrong," or one continuous mistake. According to Dogen, one continuous mistake can also be Zen. A Zen master's life could be said to be so many years of shoshaku jushaku. This means so many years of one single-minded effort.

Here're "x-convention" versions of the two Esperanto passages I sent you, without diacritics (the u( just loses the little breve accent):

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Du Suzukioj. Al duona jarcento antaue, en transplanto kiu estis komparita en historia graveco al la latinaj tradukoj de Aristotelo en la dektria jarcento, kaj de Platono en la dek-kvina, Daisetz Suzuki alportis Zen al Okcidento sola-mane. Kvindek jarojn poste, Shunryu Suzuki faris iun preskau tiel grava. En cxi tiu lia sola libro li sonis gxuste la sekva noto Usonanoj interesitaj en Zen bezonas audi.

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Dogen-zenji diris, "Shoshaku jushaku.'' Shaku gxenerale signifas "eraro" au "malbono." Shoshaku jushaku signifas "sekvi malbono kun malbono," au unu kontinua eraro. Lau Dogen, unu kontinua eraro povas ankau esti Zen. La vivo de Zen majstro povus diri esti tiel multaj jaroj de shoshaku jushaku. Tio signifas tiom da jaroj de unu sole-mensa penado.

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Again, these are not really fluent Esperanto, though an Esperanto speaker could read them and get pretty close to the original, I think. Would be interesting to see how a fluent Esperantisto would translate these passages back into English, if he weren't familiar with the book.

Btw, I have a copy of the Dhammapada in Esperanto, as well as I think some Zen stuff (the Ten Bulls?).