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archaic, or gone out of present use, with a Swastika ()"; but the total number of words so marked is only 188 words in large type and 65 words and expressions under small type; a total of 263 words, in the whole Dictionary of 1353 pages; so that this indication is of little value, and it is difficult to see on what ground these particular words have been selected rather than others.
It is not implied, by the above remarks, that the present Dictionary does not contain the colloquial language at all. It does so, and to a larger extent than previous dictionaries, but what is colloquial is not distinguished from what is literary.
It may be argued that in a Tibetan-English Dictionary this is not so necessary as it would be in an English-Tibetan Dictionary, inasmuch as the person who looks for any word, himself knows the source from which he has obtained it. This may be so, but at the same time, the person who hears for the first time a colloquial word spoken by a common Tibetan, if he succeeds in finding it in the Dictionary, would like to know whether it were also an accepted word in literature, and the person looking out a word found in a book would at the same time like to know whether it is a word which would be understood if he used it in ordinary conversation.
As shewing the complete divergence between the literary and spoken languages, we cannot do better than translate the following passage from M. Desgodins' preface to his Grammar of spoken Tibetan.1 Speaking of the early writers who formed the literary language from the seventh century of our era onwards, he says: "They have formed for Tibet a sacred language. This language has never been understood except by those who have made a special study of it; it has not penetrated into the usage of the people, who have preserved their own dialects and their own patois, leaving to rare scholars, lamas, or laymen, the care of reading, understanding and explaining, if they are able, the sacred books. These scholars themselves never speak as their books are written, and if anyone were to speak this language to them, either they would not understand him, or they would say, "One writes in that way, but speaks quite differently.
As regards any but these rare scholars, one may confidently endorse the first alternative and say that no one else if so addressed would understand the language at all.
In considering this divergence, it will be well to give a brief outline of the growth of the Tibetan literary language from the time when,
1 Essai de Grammaire Thibétaine, pour la language parlée, par A. Desgodins. Hongkong. Imprimerie de Nazareth. 1899,
Thonmi Sambhota, the minister of king Srongtsan Gampo, returned to Tibet after studying the Sanskrit language at Magadha, and introduced the art of writing, in the early part of the seventh century. It must always be borne in mind that the original object of introducing the art of writing into Tibet was to propagate the Buddhist religion which had been officially adopted by that country, by the translation into Tibetan of the Buddhist writings which existed in India in Sanskrit.
Jäschke divides the period of literary activity into two parts, and we cannot do better than quote his reference to them in the Preface of his Dictionary.
"The first is the Period of Translations, which, however, might also be entitled the Classical Period, for the sanctity of the religious message conferred a corresponding reputation and tradition of excellence upon the form in which it was conveyed. This period begins in the first half of the seventh century when Thon-mi Sambhota, the minister of king Srongtsan Gampo, was sent to India to learn Sanskrit. His invention of the Tibetan alphabet gave a two-fold impulse: for several centuries the wisdom of India and the ingenuity of Tibet laboured in unison and with the greatest industry and enthusiasm at the work of translation. The tribute due to real genius must be awarded to these early pioneers of Tibetan Grammar. They had to grapple with the infinite wealth and refinement of Sanskrit, they had to save the independence of their own tongue, while they strove to subject it to the rule of scientific principles; and it is most remarkable how they managed to produce translations at once literal and faithful to the spirit of the original. The first masters had made for their later disciples a comparatively easy road, for the style and contexts of the writings with which the translators had to deal present very uniform features. When once typical patterns had been furnished it was possible for the literary manufacture to be extended by a sort of mechanical process." "A considerable time elapsed before natives of Tibet began to indulge in compositions of their own. When they did so, the subject-matter chosen by them to operate upon, was either of a historical or of a legendary kind. In this second period the language shews much resemblance to the modern tongue, approaching most closely the present idiom of Central Tibet. We find a greater freedom in construction, a tendency to use abbreviated forms (thus the mere verbal root is often inflected in place of a complete infinitive) and a certain number of new grammatical combinations."
This second period commenced about the year 1025 A.D., and may be said to have continued down to the end of the seventeenth century.
It contains the works of the Tibetan saints Milaraspa and Atisa and various others who followed them.
To these two periods, Sarat Chandra Das adds a third, commencing from the establishment of the Dalai Lama's Sovereignty over the whole of Tibet in the beginning of the eighteenth century. With regard to this more recent period he remarks: "Neither he (Jäschke) nor Csoma de Körös had any means or opportunities of studying either the current literature of every-day business, or the refined idiomatic literature of Tibet itself, which is quite distinct from the Indian literature that was imported into the language. They do not seem to have ever during the course of their study of Tibetan come across works on drama, fiction, correspondence, &c. It is, therefore, no wonder that the compiler of the later Dictionary should assign only two periods to the history of the literature of Tibet, entirely ignoring the third which is indeed not the least important of the three."
We do not know what books Rai Sarat Chandra Das may be referring to as "the current literature of every-day business," but think that he must have employed a term which is unintentionally misleading, as, so far as I am aware, no current books that would answer such a description exist. Rai Sarat Chandra Das brought a large number of books with him from Lhasa, a catalogue of which was published; but there is no book in that list that would answer to such a description.
As regards "correspondence," Rai Sarat Chandra Das has obtained a large amount of entirely new matter, which has been published by Government separately under the title of "Yig Kur Nam Shag'
(4 55′ 5′ 794), being a collection of letters, both official and pri(ཡིག་ བསྐུར་ རྣམ་ གཞབག ),
vate, and illustrating the different forms of correspondence used in Tibet. The first part of this book consists of copies of the original letters, chiefly official, issued by the minister Sheda, also known as Pishipa, the minister who favoured Abbés Huc and Gabet during their visit to Lhasa in 1846. These letters are among the papers in the State offices at Lhasa, but Rai Sarat Chandra Das was able to obtain copies of them through the kindness of the two sons of another minister, Shape Phala, whose guest he had been at Lhasa. The second part consists of letterforms, partly composed and partly compiled by the late Lama Sherab Gyatsho, Head Lama of Ghoom Monastery; and the third part is a popular complete letter writer intended for business and ordinary correspondence, a copy of which was obtained by Mr. A. W. Paul, C.I.E., Political Officer of the Sikhim expedition of 1888, among the things which the Tibetans left behind in their flight.
It must, however, be borne in mind that although a large number
of current words and new colloquial phrases have been added in the present Dictionary, this has been, so to speak, incidental; the primary object of the Dictionary and its scope being purely literary. This is clearly stated in the Preface. The Dictionary owed its inception to the recommendation of Csoma de Körös in the preface to his Dictionary, in 1834, that at a further date “the Tibetan Dictionary may be much improved, enlarged, and illustrated by the addition of Sanskrit terms." "In the year 1889," says Sarat Chandra Das, "I brought these opinions of that original investigator to the notice of Sir Alfred Croft, K.C.I.E., the then Director of Public Instruction in Bengal, and explained to him the necessity of compiling a Tibetan-English Dictionary on the lines indicated by Csoma de Körös, and particularly to assist European scholars in the thorough exploration of the vast literature of Tibet." This new matter was also based on four dictionaries of classical Tibetan which Rai Sarat Chandra Das brought with him from Tibet.
The reason for the existence of these Sanskrit terms in the old literary Tibetan, as has been already noticed, is that all the earlier Tibetan literature consists of translations from Sanskrit works on the Buddhist religion. These early books were written in a series of triplets of lines.
The centre line being generally the Sanskrit, the upper line the phonetic sound of the Sanskrit in Tibetan (a phonetic transliteration), and the bottom line the translation of the Sanskrit into Tibetan. This is the usual arrangement, though the Sanskrit is also sometimes the top line of the three. The transliterated words of the upper line are what form the "Sanskrit terms," and the interest that attaches to these Sanskrit terms in Tibetan is that the translation then given shews what was held to be the meaning in the seventh century of various philosophical terms, whose exact meaning may have since become altered or uncertain. This interest, however, is purely literary and philosophical.
In addition to these actually transliterated Sanskrit words, there are a number of Sanskrit synonyms. These Sanskrit equivalents, as is stated in the Reviser's Preface, have been taken from one celebrated Sanskrit-Tibetan Dictionary, and supplemented by Pandit Satish Chandra Acharya Vidyabhushan, who has also in numerous instances appended a literal English rendering of the Sanskrit terms.
It is difficult to estimate exactly the amount of new matter which the present Dictionary contains as compared with its predecessor Jäschke and its contemporary Desgodins.
It contains 1353 pages as compared with 608 in Jäschke's (TibetanEnglish portion) and 1087 in Desgodins. Such comparison is however misleading, as owing to different size of type and spacing the amount of
printed matter on the page is different in each. Taking the average of a certain number of similar pages in each of the three dictionaries, I find that Sarat Chandra Das's contains 571 words to the page, Jäschke's 696 and Desgodins' 325; and correcting according to this standard, Jäschke's 608 pages are equivalent to 743 of the present Dictionary, while Desgodin's 1087 pages are only equivalent to 618, and Jäschke's 608 pages contains more printed matter than Desgodin's 1087. Even thus, however, this comparison by bulk would be somewhat misleading owing to the fact that Desgodins' Dictionary is written in Latin as well as French; so that for every word or example given there is first the Latin equivalent and then the French, which would reduce the matter by one-third if the dictionary were only bi-lingual as in the case of the other two. But, against this, on the other hand, must be set the fact that in Desgodins' the Tibetan words and examples are only printed in the Tibetan character, while in Sarat Chandra Das's besides being printed in the Tibetan character they are followed by their transliteration in the English character, which takes up a corresponding
For a similar reason the comparison by bulk between the present Dictionary and Jäschke's would be misleading, as in Jäschke's only the original word is printed in the Tibetan character, all phrases and examples given under it being given in their transliteration only; so that the real difference in the matter between Jäschke's and the present Dictionary is not nearly so great as a comparison by bulk would appear to imply. However, putting aside the exact amount, there is no doubt that the present Dictionary contains a vast amount of new matter. It remains to see of what it consists.
Here I would remark that it is a great pity that new words not to be found in Jäschke have not been distinguished by any mark, which could very easily have been done, and would have involved no extra labour at the time of compilation.
The extra matter therefore consists of
(1) a large number of new literary words, and authorities, and examples of their use, compiled by Rai Sarat Chandra Das.
(2) a collection, of Sanskrit equivalents to the literary words made
by Dr. A. Schiefner. These are marked by an asterisk.
(3) Sanskrit Synonyms added by Pandit Satis Chandra Acharya Vidyabhushan.
(4) a large number of fresh authorities for previously existing literary words and examples of their use.
(5) a number of current words collected by Rai Sarat Chandra Das, with examples of their use.