What is the L1 edX?

A Resource for Tibetan Translators

The L1 edX is a resource for Tibetan translation. It consists of L1 (first language) studies—that is, studies in English—specifically targeted to Tibetan translators. But why is work in English important for translators?

Translation may broadly be divided into two tasks: the first is reading, and comprehending, the text in Tibetan; the second is rendering that content in English—writing. In other words, it takes (1) reading skill in the source language and (2) writing skill in the target language.

In our view, the Grammar-Translation method employed by many is a classical technique, the result of the move from communicative Latin to the European vernaculars in formal education. Translation in this format becomes a “word for word” (verbum pro verbo) exercise, a rote dictionary and/or memory game.

The result is we employ neither of the skills above. Specifically, the problem with Grammar-Translation is that: (1) reading comprehension does not take place in Tibetan; (2) and this turns the writing process into a comprehension process, rather than a language skill!

How do we learn translation?

As for the first point, how do we develop reading comprehension skills in a purely Tibetan context? By learning how to speak in Tibetan. By speaking in Tibetan, we develop the ability to think in Tibetan; and this is applicable to reading.

In other words, the goal is to learn how to understand what we read in Tibetan as we read the Tibetan—just as you understand what you read in English as you read it in English, without having to consult a dictionary, or contemplate the grammar… That is the goal of the L2 edX.

The L1 edX, on the other hand, is aimed at building the skills for the second part of the translation process: writing in English. If we ask ourselves, what do we need to know how to write in English (if we’re to be good Tibetan translators), the answer is: the genres equivalent to our source texts.

If we are translating poetry, for instance, we need the skill of writing poetically; if philosophy, we’ll need a philosophical lexicon; if we’re translating prayers, we need to know how to write in a spiritual and religious tone. TibXL1 has a little bit of it all for foundation-building; we’ll add more advanced classes for specialists as we go!

For now, we’ve divided the site into the following categories of study:

  • Linguistics (Science of Language)
  • Literature (Readings in English)
  • Philosophy (History of Western Thought)
  • Religion (Religious Philosophy, Texts, & Language)
  • Translation (Theory & Studies)

While, at first, posts will be organized broadly, the hope is to eventually create a fully developed curriculum of coursework for L1 studies in Tibetan translation.

We hope you enjoy the site, and as always, contact us with your feedback and suggestions! Perhaps you’d like to help organize or join a group of fellow translators in a more cohesive exploration of one of the above topics; please let us know…


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