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Open Access A Further Consideration of the Pattern “NP1, NP2 + shi ye/shi” in Chinese Translations of Indian Buddhist Text

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A Further Consideration of the Pattern “NP1, NP2 + shi ye/shi” in Chinese Translations of Indian Buddhist Text

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The pattern “NP1, NP2 + shi ye”, as found in the Chinese translations of Buddhist texts in the Han Dynasty, is not a direct imitation of, or derivation from, the pattern “NP1, NP2 (Subj) + shi (Pron) ye” of the pre-Qin era. Rather, it comes from the pattern “NP1, NP2 (Predicate N) + shi (Copula)” of the Western Han, Eastern Han, Wei, Jin, and Northern and Southern Dynasties periods. In the Chinese Buddhist translations of the Han Dynasty, “NP1, NP2 + shi” is a variant of “NP1, NP2 + shi ye”. The copious use of the two grammatical patterns in the Chinese translations is not intended to render the sentence-final copula in the original Sanskrit texts. Rather, when narrating stories that tell “the NP1 in the previous existence is in fact the NP2 in the present existence”, the Buddhist writings place a specific emphasis on the NP2 of the present existence. The Predicate NP appearing before the copula in these two patterns serves precisely that purpose. Hence, the use is most suitable for stories of this nature.


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