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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The linguistic encounter between the Chinese and their neighbors begins from our earliest records. The Hua-Xia peoples of the central plain region came into contact with peoples of diverse language families, including Austroasiatic, Paleosiberian, Indo-European, and Tibeto-Burman, necessitating frequent interlinguistic exchange. The coming of Buddhism in the Later Han brought China’s first encounter with a significant literary other. The translation of Buddhist scriptures was carried out oral-aurally and by committee, leaving traces of the vernacular that would have noticeable impact on new genres of literature in the medieval period, even as the encounter with Sanskrit metrics would similarly transform Chinese poetry. Much of this work was carried out under imperial patronage. Finally, not all translation activity involved a one-way transmission from India to China. There is evidence of non-Indian translations carried out in Chinese territories and interest in non-Buddhist traditions as well.

Keywords: translation, Buddhism, vernacular, Sanskrit metrics, scripts, Xuanzang, Heart Sutra, Kumārajīva, Wu Zetian, Sogdians

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