Benjamin Hoff's "Tao Te Ching"

Recommended Posts

On 03/02/2023 at 12:24 PM, Dao Hu said:

Well, he seems to get inventive both with grammar
故常無欲,以觀其妙;常有欲,以觀其徼。which he translates as "Consistently desire Without-form In order to study its mysteries. Consistently desire Has-form In order to study in frontiers" --  here I'd probably object to the syntax interpretation, since the predicate should go before the object, as it is in english:  故[therefore] 常[permanent, always, normal] 無[have not] 欲[desire, want],以[thus, thereby] 觀[see in detail,] 其[its, his, hers] 妙[mysterious, subtle, exquisite];常[permanent, always, normal] 有[be, have]欲[desire, want],以[thus, thereby] 觀[see in detail] 其[its, his, hers] 徼[border, limit]。 Therefore I'd suggest a translation like: Therefore, always having no desires [one] thereby observes (comprehends) one’s subtleness (hidden perfection).  Always having desires [one] thereby [merely] observes one’s [outer] limits."

Yes, yours is a grammatically correct translation; it is also the standard  translation; and I too read it that way.
However, apparently 
OV can occur in Classical Chinese* (but I’m unfamiliar with when).

* “The basic constituent order of Classical Chinese is subject-verb-object (SVO), but is not fully consistent: there are particular situations where the VS and OV word orders appear.” 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_Chinese_grammar (Core constituent order)


Edited by Cobie

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry for late reply. Interesting. Well I tend to be skittish when it comes to re/interpretation, especially adding words that are not in the original text. This is of course necessary, yet imho might be wise to put [them] into brackets, so one is aware of it. Another point is that since translating preclassical chinese is not an exact science, one should, again imho, worship the source text. Especially when the target language is also analytical and so nouns are nouns and verbs verb. ^_^  It is true that [especially] in the times of Lao zi people seemed to be much less attached to overconceptualizing speciffic words, but still, it kinda helps to stay anchored so we won't drift too far to drown in the ezocean... ^_^ Btw, I'm currently working on my own take on Laozi (both translation and interpretation), so who knows, I might just refute myself by drowning hehe...


  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites