In this paper, we analysed terms related to the deaf-mute and the gestural language in primitive sutras translated into Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, English, or Japanese based on systematic, functional linguistics including genre analysis, register analysis, cognitive lexicology comprising semasiology and onomagiology, and translation theory. This indicated how early Buddhism was organised and the diverse Buddhist terms that were utilised in this context at the time. The text mining shows that the diverse terms related to the deaf-mute were observed onomagiologically in the primitive sutras in Pali; however, few were observed semasiologically in the primitive Chinese sutras. Additionally, terms related to the sign (i.e. argot) were observed only in contexts related to commandments in the primitive sutras in Pali; however, they were extended semantically to the gestural language in primitive Chinese sutras. Based on these observations, the contexts showing the interaction of terms related to the deaf-mute and the gestural language were investigated. The analysis revealed that the conceptual system of the deaf-mute and the gestural language in ancient Indian or Chinese societies was symbolised through the translation of the primitive sutras.
The Śālistambasūtra is one of the Mahāyāna sūtras devoted to the subject of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda), and is preservd in its entirety in one Tibetan and five Chinese translations (T 708–712). Although the full Sanskrit text of the sūtra is no longer extant, a large number of fragmentary Sanskrit texts are preserved in various Mahāyāna works. Many western scholars have tried to reconstruct the original Sanskrit text on the basis of the Tibetan translation. There is, however, no attempt to consider the historical change of the philosophy and the textual relationship among the Chinese translations. This paper aims at this attempt from the philological and philosophical points of view.
A closer examination of the texts reveals the following:
(1) The earliest Chinese translation (T 708) by Zhi Qian 支謙(A.D. 195?–255?) does not contain the structural elements characterizing Mahāyāna sūtra literature.
(2) The other Chinese translations, aside from that by Zhi Qian, can be classified into two groups: (a) those belonging to the Madhyamaka school (T 710 and T 712); (b) those belonging to the Yogācāra school (T 709 and T 711).
(3) Consideration of the texts of the Tibetan and the Chinese translations convinces us that the original Sanskrit text translated into Tibetan is akin to that translated into Chinese by anonymous translators (T 712). It is interesting to note that there are many similarities of diction between the Sanskrit text reconstructed on the basis of the Tibetan translation and the fragmentary Sanskrit text quoted in Śāntideva (685–763)’s Śikṣāsamuccaya, which suggests that the original Sanskrit text translated into Chinese by the anonymous translators (T 712) dates to somewhere between the seventh and the eighth century CE.