Tempering Belles Infidèles and Promoting Jolies Laides: Idle Thoughts on the Ideal Rendering of Buddhist Texts and Terminology

Florin Deleanu


The paper argues for the suitability, or at least acceptability, of a translation style which I call jolie laide, i.e. a rendering which is not necessarily exquisite in its aesthetic quality but is as faithful as possible to the original and perfectly intelligible in the target language. This is not a mechanical process, and in order to meet these standards, the translator should allow for flexibility and make full use of the critical apparatus. I do not rule out, however, other rendering strategies, and the last part of my contribution illustrates the possibility of having jolies laides side by side with free translations. The article also contains an appendix on Dao’an’s‘five [points of permissible] deviation from the original and three [points which should remain] unchanged’ and Xuanzang’s‘five types [of Indic words which should] not be translated’.

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