Translation Techniques in the Ancient and Oriental Cultures


Artemij Keidan, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy


The Topical Issue titled “Translation Techniques in the Ancient and Oriental Cultures” contains papers that analyze the peculiarities of translation techniques adopted by translators who worked within a variety of pre-modern or non-western environments (Ancient Europe, South Asia, Buddhist and Central Asia, China and Japan), with a major focus on those situations when no translation theory was available. The degree of preservation in translation of any kind of sacral, religious or connotative characteristics of the source texts is often particularly admirable in very ancient translations, even for modern standards. On the other hand, the translation errors are often as interesting and informative as the successful cases.

Special attention is paid to “meta-semiotic translation”. By this term, discussed in the introductory paper, those cases are intended where the source text is itself related to a language (such as the adaptation of a grammatical description of one language to another language; or, the translation of a western terminological vocabulary into an — only apparently incompatible — philosophical tradition of the East).

The ultimate goal is to understand whether the analysis of the translation techniques implemented in these milieus can help us devise new and unexpected generalizations valid with reference to the translation phenomenon as such.

Meaningfulness, the unsaid and translatability: Instead of an introduction
Artemij Keidan

The birth of the adjective class as a problem of translation
Luca Alfieri

Translation as Innovation in Literature: the case of a Sanskrit Buddhist poem translated into Chinese
Laura Lettere

Syriac into Middle Iranian: A Translation Studies Approach to Sogdian and Pahlavi Manuscripts within the Church of the East
Chiara Barbati

A conversation and a letter. Heidegger, Derrida, and the (un)translatable East
Lorenzo Marinucci