Translating Babylonian to Thai: Challenges and Possible Models
As the interest in ancient cultures among the Thai public has increased exponentially over the past years, this paper addresses the demand for Thai translations of ancient literature by investigating the challenges in the formulation of the philological methodology for the translation of Babylonian texts into Thai.
In so doing, it examines recent Thai translations of popular literary works in ancient languages that are not (yet) part of the Thai formal education/academia, such as the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Dialogues of Socrates by Plato (Ancient Greek), as well as adaptations of works by Cicero (Latin). Examples of the challenges in translation will be sourced from a variety of Babylonian texts, including prayers, poetry, private letters, and cooking recipes.
Unlike Sanskrit and Pali of which the Thai literary culture maintains a long philological interest, where paradigms of transliteration and translation have given rise to a rich tradition of commentary and textual production, the ancient languages from Western Asia and Eastern Mediterranean have yet to enjoy a similar privilege.
It is hoped that this project will serve as one of the stepping stones for the growing local community of ancient language enthusiasts, to create a firm ground for the expansion of Ancient Studies in Thailand.
About the speaker
Dr Peerapat Ouysook is an officer at the Siamese Heritage Trust, The Siam Society Under Royal Patronage. He holds a doctoral degree in Archaeology from the University of Cambridge. His dissertation, completed in 2021, investigates the composition of the inscriptions of King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. Apart from the ancient languages of Western Asia, Dr Ouysook is also interested in the 19th-century European reception of ancient cultures, particularly as reflected in travel writings and operas.
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