Jeff Pepper

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About Jeff Pepper

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    Dao Bum
  1. Hi from Jeff

    What am I? Tough question, LimA, but I guess it's an appropriate question on this forum... I guess I like to identify interesting and worthwhile problems, and then solve them creatively. That's taken many forms in my life -- mostly in business, where I've started, built up and managed several tech companies. But I also spent 30 years as a student on a spiritual path (though I'm currently unaffiliated), trying to solve that pesky "meaning of life" problem. From my background as an entrepreneur, I tend to see problems as interesting opportunities. So, I got involved in writing and publishing books because (a) it looked like fun, and (b) I saw an unsolved problem; ie, grownups like me looking for books to help them learn Chinese. So I spent a year writing and publishing a series of six books. As that was wrapping up, I started looking for another challenge. Collaborating with my friend Xiao Hui, I decided to translate the DDJ, but I decided to do it in a novel way. I wanted to find a way for people to see through the translation and understand how the verses were originally written and how they are transformed, for better or worse, into English. That's how I got involved in this project, which as become pretty much all-consuming! OK, that's my true confession for today. Whew.
  2. [TTC Study] Chapter 53 of the Tao Teh Ching

    Having some trouble with Line 6. 朝甚除 (Cháo shén chú), "Royal court is very ???". 除 in modern Chinese means remove, divide, eliminate, wipe out, but none of those fit here -- ie, "The royal court has been wiped out" ! Not likely. There's supposedly an archaic meaning of being reassigned from one post to another, but that doesn't fit either. There's an obscure meaning, apart, which could work here, as in, "The royal court has been isolated." This fits well with the following lines... the kingdom is falling apart while the courtiers dress in fine clothes, etc. Any suggestions?
  3. I'm new!

    Thanks for the kind words of welcome! So, here's some more background on the project. The book's working title and subtitle are "Dao De Jing in Clear English, Including A Step-By-Step Translation". Obviously there's no shortage of DDJ translations already, but I think there are a couple of things we can accomplish by doing yet another one. First, I want to create an easy to read, easy to understand translation for general, non-scholarly, readers, one which is clear, concise, accurate, written in straightforward contemporary English, and which matches as much as possible the rhythms of the original Chinese. IMHO, there are too many translations where extraneous stuff is inserted by the translator, serving only to obscure the meaning. We're taking a minimal approach, trying really hard not to insert anything that's not already there. Second, I thought it would be fun and useful to give readers a way to peek behind the curtain and see for themselves how the original Chinese is converted to English, so they can understand some of the deeper/multiple meanings of the text, and also see why translations can turn out so incredibly different. Here's how we're doing it: for each chapter, we first show our translation. Then on the following 2 or 3 pages we show each line of the original text (using Bruce Linnell's consensus version as the original), then the pinyin so the reader can "sound it out", then a literal word-for-word translation, then any notes that might be needed to explain how we got from that to the final version. It sounds complicated, but it seems to be working very well so far. We're about 2/3 finished with the first draft. Then we have lots of review, cleanup and layout work, plus at least one round of scholarly review. Hope to have something published by late spring!
  4. Hi from Jeff

    Hi everyone, new member here, Jeff Pepper from Pittsburgh PA. I'm a writer, publisher, and a slow but determined student of the Chinese language. My publishing company, Imagin8 Press ( started up a year ago, focusing initially on creating easy-to-read books for English speakers learning Chinese. We've published 7 books in our first year. Now I'm working on a major project, creating (yet another) new translation of the Dao De Jing. I've visited this forum a few times and have found it to be incredibly helpful. I love the serious scholarship that goes into these discussions, and the positive vibes. Looking forward to contributing! Jeff
  5. I'm new!

    Hi everyone, this is my welcome message. I'm Jeff Pepper, a writer and publisher living in Pittsburgh PA. My publishing company is Imagin8 Press (, and the only thing we do, at least for now, is publish Chinese-language books for English speaking readers. We've published a 6-book series based on Journey to the West, plus a standalone children's book. My focus for this year is to create a new translation of the Dao De Jing. Our goal is to express its wisdom in simple clear (non-scholarly) English, and to leave a trail of breadcrumbs so that readers can see how the original Chinese was translated into English. My co-author Xiao Hui Wang and I are wrestling every day with coming up with accurate and reader-friendly translations of the DDJ's verses. I'm hoping to share some of our translation challenges with you all, and would appreciate any insights you can provide!