The aim of the language course of study is to bring students into a direct encounter with primary works in and through the source languages in which they were formulated. Students choose to study either Sanskrit or Classical Chinese for two required semesters [6 units]. Students who wish to pursue further language study may take up to an additional six units. The goal is not mastery of the language, but rather for students to acquire sufficient familiarity with elements of the language so as to gain some insight into its structure and reach. As all translation is interpretation, Language Tutorials examine how language emerges from and informs a framework of philosophy in which overarching ideas, feelings, and insights about the nature of being human are shaped, articulated, and embodied.
This approach is intended to introduce students to the challenges, complexities, and excitement involved in translating primary works. It is also meant to develop sensitivity to the often elusive search for the nearest equivalents in one’s own language. Through reading Buddhist texts in their original languages, students encounter a more nuanced and direct voicing of the ideas and fundamental questions they raise.