HM : Translation

Translation is done from a Source Language into a Target Language.

Burma Translation Society was formed primarily to translate reference and text from English to Burmese.

Pali Text Society in the UK publishes selected English translations of Pali texts.

One of the Objectives of the Sixth Buddhist Council was to translate the Scriptures (including Commentaries and selected Sub-commentaries) from Pali into Burmese. Mahasi Sayadaw and his team (including Sayadaw U Silananda) compiled a Pali-Burmese Abhidan (Dictionary) to aid the translation of the Tipitaka.


Reverend Judson and his team compiled the “English to Burmese” and “Burmese to English” dictionaries. They translated the Bible into Burmese.

There are several Dictionaries compiled by Burmese. The early works were done by

  • U Tun Nyein
  • Dr. Ba Han
  • Tet Toe (U Ohn Pe)

U Hoke Sein took two decades to complete his Pali-English-Burmese Dictionary.

Lost in Translation?

Some meaning can be lost in Translation.

Grapevine says that the Japanese were given an ultimatum by the US. The response supposedly had two meanings :
(a) We will consider
(b) We don’t care
Due to miscommunication or “wrong” translation, the second meaning was taken, and the first A-bomb was released over Hiroshima.

Interpreters find it difficult to translate jokes or puns. One interpreter pleaded : “The dignitary is making a joke. If you want to help me retain my job, please applaud loudly and laugh heartily.” His job was saved.

WPD Sunday Supplement

Working People’s Daily (WPD) carried a Sunday Supplement. It carried the translation of renowned authors and scholars.

They include

  • MMT (former Chief Justice U Myint Thein)
  • Tet Toe (U Ohn Pe)
  • ZMT (former Ambassador U Zaw Myint Thein)
  • Sao Hso Holm (English First Class Honors, son of Arzani Sao San Htun)

The Assistant Editor Daw Khin Swe Hla (formerly “Dawlay” at Guardian) wanted some fresh blood. She assigned me to translate a short story “Nge Thay Lo” by Sayagyi U Thu Kha. I tried my best to come up with “Still So Young” and received a remuneration of fifty kyats. Sayagyi was given fifty kyats.

My experience

  • Translator and Interpreter at Meditation Retreats and selected events
  • Loose rendition of articles and poems by Sayas and alumni

Categories: Notes

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