Monday, December 17, 2018

Tibetan Vocabulary or TibVocab

I must apologize. I know according to my own rules I am supposed to post something here every month or so. Ease up on me though. It’s not as if I signed a binding contract. I reckon myself free apart from the dictates of my own conscience. That’s the beauty of retirement. It gives a fellow lots of time to do all that work he’s been putting off for years. I know, I haven’t finished putting up all of TPNI yet, and already I’m starting to put up something else. 

I suppose my problem is that all of a sudden I discovered that free websites are now available that no longer limit the size of ordinary text files. That means the sky is the limit, I suppose. In actual practice what I get are “error” messages every time I try to add another big piece of text. Still, after some initial confusion and struggles against the machine, it seems to work just fine.

It’s true that a version of “TibVocab” has been available to the world for years now at THLIB, as part of their much-used “Tibetan-English Translation Tool,”  I say much-used because 21st-century students of Tibetan written language can scarcely move without it. But there is one particular inadequacy in the way TibVocab is presented there. I had intended to produce a word index, with the references supplied, and often with citations from the literature, especially in case of problematic terms that still haven’t been defined adequately. I do appreciate all the serious work that went into getting it up there, but in the dictionary tool there is no place to put a key to bibliographical references, so it simply disappeared. One large part of TibVocab's reason for existence vanished into thin air.

One more thing, TibVocab has expanded during the years that passed since it segued into the Dictionary Tool. That means when you go to the link I will supply presently, you will have a somewhat better chance of finding that word you’re  looking for.

For more about what TibVocab is and isn’t you can read the introduction at the website itself. I can’t promise anything for tomorrow, but as of today, I have only gotten started with the initial letter KA. I know that in coming days I’ll be testing the limits of what ‘full capacity’ can mean in a free website, but I’ve got the time. And I’m developing the patience.

So if you like, go visit it now by clicking with all your might on THIS LINK, or just double-click on the banner you see up above at the very top of this blog entry. Once you get there, feel free to make a bookmark.

A free tip:  If you would like to limit your search to main entries, as you might, just add a bullet [•] immediately before the word you would like to find.

If you do on an odd chance come across a very unusual word such as mu-yad (or dmu-yad) I recommend that you look in TibVocab, of course, but I’m not saying you should stop there. Go ahead and do a word search in TBRC's repository of scanned Tibetan texts.* It immediately locates any Tibetan word within a corpus of over a million pages of text. You aren’t all that likely to find a definition using this method, but what you will find are a number of usages in various contexts that could help a lot in your efforts to divine meanings.**
*Come to think of it mu-yad wasn't such a good choice for an example after all.  Having gone to TBRC I see that only one result pops up, and not a very illuminating one at that. Since Tibetans didn't often have reason to speak of deserts, I'd say try searching for mya-ngam (with the final 'm') instead. And after the experiment do read Joanna Bialek's “The Tibetan Fiery Way to Nirvana: Reflections on Old Tibetan mya ngan,” Rocznik Orientalistyczny, vol. 70, no. 2 (2017), pp. 60-96. Or use a TBRC search to try and figure out which celestial display is indicated by dgu-tshigs or dgu-tshigs skya-mo. What does star arrow (skar-mda') mean? You got the idea even before I got to telling about it.
**I seldom make appeals for anything at Tibetologic, but seeing that many of us are in the middle of the holiday season, do think about making a donation to TBRC just because they are doing the work of gods and would make excellent use of the offerings. Without TBRC 21st-century Tibetologicians cannot thrive, let alone be of good cheer.

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Progress (?):

December 22, 2018:  All my struggles with the letter tsha trying to get it up there have failed repeatedly. It seems my idea that limitless space was available for single documents wasn't correct. Wondering if I should open a new free website or what? Well, 2/3rds of it is up there. I may have to come up with some other solution. Meanwhile, for people in the Christmas world, Merry Christmas and/or happy holiday of your choice. In any case be happy.


January 5, 2019:  At last, success! Now, even though the document is divided into two parts (with the bibliography as a 3rd part), they have been linked almost seamlessly. Starting at this address (the very same link supplied before) I think anyone can figure out what's going on:

And feel free to download (or cut-and-paste) the content to your own laptop, where you can find out how to combine the three files into one if you like. That way you won't be forced to rely on unstable internet connections. Forever free!

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