Translating Buddhism From Tibetan: An Introduction To The Tibetan Literary Language And The Translation Of Buddhist Texts From Tibetan (Anglais) Relié – 1 janvier 1992
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Wilson has achieved an effective (though in some respects unusual, and debatable) synthesis of grammatical approaches based on Latinate, English-language and traditional Tibetan grammars. Though expert readers will find much of this information redundant, students in the first three or four years of formal study stand to gain much from this book.
Translating Buddhism from Tibetan will be particularly useful for students who wish to read Buddhist scriptures or study Tibetan scholastic commentaries. Most of the examples in the book are drawn from one of these two genres. Students interested contemporary and secular Tibetan literature should consult Goldstein's book mentioned above; those interested in a more deeply researched, scholarly discussion of Tibetan syntax and morphology, or in archaic forms of Tibetan language, should have a look at Beyer.
Still, this is a honourable work and it may be useful for a first, cautious approach to classical Tibetan. If you want to plunge into the real thing right away, I suggest you buy Stephen Hodge's "Introduction to Classical Tibetan" (if you can find it).
Another reviewer commented that the book is overly pedantic in its detailed explanations and grammatical quibbling - well, what does one expect from a 700-page tome on archaic (more or less) philosophical grammar and vocabulary? You didn't think Classical Tibetan was going to be a walk in the park did you? In any case you can simply skip over the details when Wilson gets a little too in depth.
The major problem with this book as I see it is that it is fairly unbalanced. Meaning, in the first 7 chapters or so there are essentially no sentence/vocabulary exercises, leaving you to somehow (by rote, was my method) memorize some 150-200 terms that are introduced (and not easy ones - 'non-associated compositional factors' comes up, e.g.). This improves though, with quite a few exercises in the later chapters. This added context and required practice/effort really helps you to memorize the vocab and understand the grammar better. Presumably these were left out of early chapters so as not to discourage the student or to make it easier, but instead it just means you have lots to memorize without much contextual help - a big mistake, in my opinion.
Which leaves me at the final point, which is that this is a necessary book, I think, for anyone interested in Classical Tibetan. The field is simply too small. The only other 'intro' level books really are Craig Preston's "How to Read Classical Tibetan" series (two volumes so far, hopefully more to come), but these really aren't introductions. They presuppose thorough knowledge of how to read Tibetan and an understanding of its grammar, as well a fair vocabulary. He was also a student of Wilson's, so all his terminology and explanations etc. follow Wilson's style and terms.
In short: yes there are problems, sometimes it is a bore and overly pedantic, there are not nearly enough exercises for a self-learned... but you need this book if you want to learn Classical Tibetan. So get it and wade through it - it is worth it.
so what i would suggest is...
get wilson's book, then if you are completely new go through the whole book, coz it provides basic concept on Buddhism and lots of vocab (all really useful)... if you are a bit more experience then learn by heart apendixes 4 and 5 which deals with verbs, and clases which are a primordial part of tibetan (but for some reason some "serious" books dont even mention them... oh by the way tibetans do study tibetan talking about cases)...then move on to...
Craig preston's how to read classical tibetan... which if you don't know by heart appendix 4 n 5 is rather useless... but otherwise excellent to show how to make the complex sentences (pages long at times) into short and readable clauses or sentences... besides it also completes wilsons lack of talk or not wanting to talk about transitive and intransitive verbs (which they also exist in tibetan and are of great importance when trying to get across the right meaning)
last but not least... in my experience there have been tons of mistranslations all over the place even by "famous" translators... thats why i recommend Tony Duff's excellent Illuminator dictionary...
until the day that someone explains tibetan grammar the way tibetan study it and understand it these are the tools for anyone who is serious about learning tibetan, and when the time is right go and get teachings on tibetan from a tibetan grammarian... then the whole world is open to you... once again i think these are the best for whats outer but once you see the real thing you wont go back...