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Translation vs. the power of Tao

In Europe there was the competition for the sovereignty over the definition of thought. Everyone wishes to discuss foreign cultures in their own term
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What goes on within Europe –largely over the heads of the Asian scholars –is a battle over what the Germans call ‘Deutungshoheit’ –meaning the competition for the sovereignty over the definition of thought. Everyone wishes to discuss foreign cultures… but only on their own terms. The British, for example, were eager to design a system of Romanization, that means using the Roman alphabet for transcribing Chinese characters that would ideally become the global standard. It’s the first thing that European scholars
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think about: “Me, first, global standard.” The sense of entitlement, perhaps because of lack of opportunity is still underdeveloped, I claim, among Chinese scholars. One outstanding result was the ‘Wade-Giles’ system, that was mid -19th century onwards. It was successfully replaced by China’s own ‘HanyuPinyin’ system in 1949. For example, Tao TeChingin Wade-Giles became Dao De Jing in Pinyin. Those two prominent systems for transcribing Chinese, both with English speakers
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in mind of course are not the only ones: Americans once attempted their own ‘Yale Romanization’ system, which was short-lived. Indians, of course, use the Devanagari script to transcribe Chinese sounds. Koreans and Japanese always had their own ways, too –using Hangul alphabet and Hiragana/Katagana script respectively. The Germans, on the other hand, to whom Wade-Giles and Pinyin spellings are sound a bit unnatural to them, they often use ‘Lautschrift’, adjusting foreign words to the German tongue. Forexample, Zhuangzi becomes “DschuangDsi,” Confucius becomes “Konfuzius,” Shanghai becomes “Schanghai,” and so on. The Europeans can’t even unite under the English spelling ‘Taoism’. Some still say “Daoism.” The Spanish write‘Eltaoísmo’, the French ‘Le taoïsme, and the Polish ‘Taoizm’. Meanwhile, the Russians
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use the Cyrillic alphabet: 泥铖́桤?. Everybody wants to cook his own meal. As a matter of fact, even James Legge devised his own idiosyncratic system, now called the ‘Legge Romanization’.
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Hence such titles as: ‘TheTâoTeh King’ Legge’s English translations are extremely popular precisely because they appeal to the masses of people, and the masses in the west they are monolingual. Many European scholars start with Legge’s as the basis of their own translations. It is very common in Europe to translate East-Asian literature not from the original, but from the English.
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Where there is a great customer base, There always is more benefit for the benefactors –in Legge’s case: Empire. The British had successfully disenfranchised the Chinese from their own traditions. ‘China Studies’ –as opposed to continental ‘Sinology’ –was born. It was dominated and administrated by loyal scholars, syndicated throughout the English-speaking world, then repackaged as international scholarship and “global standard,” and shipped back to China.

In Europe there was the competition for the sovereignty over the definition of thought. Everyone wishes to discuss foreign cultures – but only in their own terms. It is very common in Europe to translate East-Asian literature not from the original, but from the English. The British had successfully disenfranchised the Chinese from their own traditions. So-called China studies was dominated and administrated by loyal scholars, syndicated throughout the English-speaking world, then repackaged as international scholarship and “global standard,” and shipped back to China.

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Taoism and Western Culture

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