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TRANSLATION
SERVICES

OVERVIEW

As Tibetan Buddhism spreads from Tibet, India, and Nepal, more and more lamas and teachers from Asia are able to teach students directly in English and other languages. This is a delightful development, as it brings us closer to the lineage masters and living Buddhist wisdom tradition.

Dharma Tibetan is highly technical, however, and salient words are rich in shades of meaning difficult to carry from Tibetan into other languages. Moreover, English and other Western languages are typically far more prolific than Tibetan, and finding the mot juste to render the Tibetan accurately may be difficult, even for native speakers.

Thus, some Dharma teachers who can navigate English quite well in everyday settings nevertheless prefer an interpreter for oral teachings. 

Working with classical Tibetan texts, be it for study or practice, is a whole other story. Classical language carries a rarefied frequency. Intended for personal use, these texts require heightened attention to precision and poetry in the target language. While this approach takes more time, it is central to our philosophy that translating Dharma is more art than science, a matter of transmitting subtle ideas and evoking lived experience rather than drawing strict terminological equivalents. 

EXPERIENCE AND SKILL

As a result, a great deal of time and preparation is needed to be able to understand, not only the words, but the underlying meaning of the Dharma, to allow for accurate and potent transmission of the substance of teachings, texts, and practice liturgies. Gifted translators of Tibetan Buddhadharma engage in language and philosophy studies and meditation practice for years, even decades, to hone their craft.

The economics of Dharma centers often means that it is difficult, if not impossible, to support qualified translators on a salaried basis. Usually, translators are hired as independent contractors for specific teachings. In this system, compensating translators at a living wage is challenging for everyone.

LIMITED AVAILABILITY

At this time, with few exceptions, it is not realistic for us to take on translation and interpreting work. It is even less feasible to translate personal practice projects. We have implemented these guidelines to facilitate proposals requesting our translation services. Rates vary with topic, the time commitment required, our workload, and other factors. 

PROPOSAL PROCEDURE

We ask parties interested in our translation or interpretation services to use these guidelines as a reference point to submit a proposal detailing the name, topic, and length of the original work, sample pages of the underlying text, when available, the nature of the translation services requested, and an estimate of the cost following our rate guidelines.

Thank you in advance for considering us for your Dharma translation project.

DANA GUIDELINES

TEXT TRANSLITERATION & TRANSLATION

Practice sadhana up to 10 pages begin at
$50 - 100 per double sided Tibetan page depending on topic

Philosophical text up to 10 pages begin at
$100 - 300 per double sided Tibetan page depending on topic

Larger projects

Please submit detailed proposal based on these guidelines

PROOFREADING, EDITING & TRANSLATION CONSULTING

$ 150 - 250 per hour 

AUDIO OR VIDEO INTERPRETATION & TRANSCRIPTION

$ 500 - 1000 per hour of recording time or part thereof depending on topic, source text, duration, etc.

REMOTE ORAL INTERPRETATION

Personal interviews

$100 per hour or part thereof

Preparation sessions with offering teacher 
$75 per hour or part thereof

Short-term teachings on general Dharma topics

One to three days total length of teachings 

  • $ 200 per hour up to two hours per day exclusive of preparation time + $100 per additional half-hour or part thereof 
    Kagyu lineage rate: $ 150 per hour up to two hours per day exclusive of preparation time + $75 per additional half hour or part thereof

  • $500 per day up to four hours per day inclusive of preparation time Kagyu lineage rate: $ 400 per day

Weekly teachings up to four weeks total

  • $500 per day up to four hours per day inclusive of preparation time, up to three days per week | Kagyu lineage rate: $ 400 per day

Other durations or subject matter clarifications

Please submit detailed proposal based on these guidelines

Recurring teachings on specialized Dharma topics

Kagyu lineage only

Up to three days per week, for more than four weeks total

  • $ 600 per day up to four hours per day inclusive of preparation time, up to three days per week

IN PERSON ORAL INTERPRETATION

Supplement in addition to Remote Oral Interpretation above

  • $ 150 / day plus reimbursement of expenses for travel and room and board

REVIEW OR MEDITATION SESSIONS IN SUPPORT OF TEACHINGS
Kagyu lineage only

  • $ 200 per session up to one and a half hours per session

~

All rates are in US dollars. We ask that centers absorb the cost of currency conversion, funds transfer, and other processing fees.

These are guidelines based on our experience interpreting and translating in different settings. No two Dharma offerings are alike.

We understand that Dharma centers have tight budgets. Feel free to use these guidelines as a starting point, and contact us with a detailed proposal for your specific needs. We encourage Kagyu lamas and centers in particular to do so, as we are better positioned to serve the lineage in which we train, practice, and teach.

 

Every proposal receives our sincere consideration. We strive to respond within three to five business days of receipt of each proposal.

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