This is a follow-up to Manyul’s recent post about the TLS.
I’m wondering whether professors of Chinese philosophy at English-speaking universities encourage their students to begin to access terms in the original Chinese. Perhaps it would be as simple as referring them to the glossary in the back of Ivanhoe and Van Norden’s Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy and then prompting them to be aware of those key terms in their reading, or it could be as complex as asking them to research a particular term across various texts.
There are a couple of reasons for asking. The first is that I have a belief that beginning to entertain the notion that there is more to a Chinese term’s semantic field than is represented in any particular translation yields a more profitable understanding for the student, and (assuming others hold the same belief) I’m curious about how others go about encouraging that. The second is that the potential of computing power to help in this regard is now quite high, and so I am wondering how electronic resources may be playing a role. The perspective I’m looking for is that of the professor who is teaching the student who is not competent in Chinese.
There are also other perspectives that will be different but just as illuminating for me:
- The student’s perspective. Suppose your professor introduces a new technical term in class, for instance, 禮 li (ritual propriety), and you want to know more about it. Or suppose you are doing a research paper and want to get a better understanding of 道 dao/tao. Where would you turn? What resources would you look to?
- The professional scholar’s perspective on accessing classical texts and lexical resources for the scholar’s own use. For instance, suppose you want to know how many times the term 知 appears in the Analects and in what contexts. How do you go about finding out? Further, suppose you come across some terms in your reading of the Analects that are not (God forbid) immediately apparent in meaning. Where do you turn?
- The non-Chinese-reading philosopher’s perspective. If you are a practicing philosopher who happens to have an interest in Chinese philosophy but not a few spare years to get up to speed on the language, how do you penetrate the texts? If you dip into the Chinese, what resources do you use?
- The scholar’s recommendation for the above. If you are a scholar competent in Chinese and a colleague asks you to recommend resources for penetrating the technical terminology of classical Chinese philosophy, what would you recommend?
- The lay person’s perspective. If you are outside of formal academics but interested in the language of Chinese philosophy, what resources do you use?
One final and related question: if any of the resources you mention are inadequate in any way, what would you envision as a remedy? What kind of resources do we need that are not already available?