Translating the Tibetan Buddhist canon : past strategies, future prospects

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

FORUM. Revue internationale d’interprétation et de traduction = International Journal of Interpretation and Translation

Publication Date






First Page


Last Page



Tibet, translation, translation history, Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist translation


This paper is a companion piece to a previous paper published in this journal (Raine 2010), whichfocused on the identity of the translators in Tibetan history and the context in which they worked.In this paper, the focus is on the formation and contents of the Tibetan Buddhist canon and thetranslation strategies used by the Tibetans during their nine centuries of translating IndianBuddhist texts. Guidelines for translation laid down by King Tride Songtsen (r. 799-815) areexamined and analyzed, followed by a discussion of how these protocols were used by later translators, scholars and editors of the Tibetan canon. As with the earlier paper, in this paper thehistorical study of translation is linked to present times, with the final section devoted toexamining recent efforts to render the Tibetan Buddhist canon into English and other languages.Institutional imperatives to coordinate this work, and the practices and norms that have beenestablished for translation, are discussed. As Tibetan Buddhism continues its process of transmission to countries in the West and beyond, how translators choose to render these oftenrecondite religious texts into multiple languages will be of great interest to scholars of bothtranslation and Buddhist studies.

Print ISSN




Publisher Statement

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Recommended Citation

Raine, R. (2011). Translating the Tibetan Buddhist canon: Past strategies, future prospects. Forum, 9(2), 157-186.