The Diachronic Change of Renderings: “Dāna” and “Dana-pati” as Examples
Keywords:布施, 檀越, 翻譯形式, 歷時變化, 認知框架, dāna, dana-pati, translation forms, diachronic change, cognitive frame
LANGUAGE NOTE | Document text in Chinese; abstract also in English.
The cognitive frame of almsgiving behavior is: doer ― action ― giving ―object. The Sanskrit term dāna refers to the action of almsgiving, which is an important practice of Buddhism, and almsgivers are called dana-pati. This study looks into the development of dāna and dana-pati members on the central plain of China, analyzes 17 respective members’ translation forms, and examines the distribution of the terms in translated Buddhist scripture in the past dynasties, Buddhist writing, and secular canons in order to analyze the evolution of these terms. The findings of our analysis serve to cast doubt on the assumption that “a single syllable word is the contraction of a multisyllabic word.” Time and distribution reveal that dan is not the abbreviation of dāna, nor is dana-pati an abridged translation. In a comparison with other transliterations, the evolution of dan was fast because it became a morpheme, which formed the root of other new words and phrases, but the relevant source-text distribution was not broad and was religiously-oriented. Thus, one should not overestimate the effect of the terms of dan. In addition, the ancients argued that dana-pati carried a substantial meaning and could be construed, but as the author of this essay points out, it is a typical transliteration. Finally, in the framework of almsgiving, the action of giving alms is more significant than the other elements. Therefore, the metonymy direction starts “from almsgiving to alms giver.”
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