Abstract：The forty volumes of the Mahāparinirvā?a-sūtra translated by Dharmak?ema in Northern Liang were called the "Northern Edition", which was passed down to Jianye in Yuanjia years (424-453 AD) of Liu Song Dynasty (or Former Song, or Southern Song) . Huiya, Huiguan, Xie Lingyun and others who modified it into the thirty-six volumes of the “Southern Edition” . In The Memoirs of Eminent Monks, the author, Liang Huijiao in the Southern Dynasties believed that the reason for this revision was due to Northern Edition’s “simple arrangement of chapters” as well as its “plain writing style”. "To be elegant or to be plain" was an important topic in the history of Buddhist translation. However, comparing the revisions in the Southern Edition with its Northern counterpart, we can find that the editors’ understanding of “plain writing style” cannot be limited to a choice about rhetoric, but for more complex and diverse reasons of genre motivation. By comparing the variants between the Northern and Southern editions, we can detect their different styles which enable us to examine the motives behind the modification. Specifically, the motives for the revision in Southern Edition include avoidance of the vernacular, preference for retro expressions, and standardization. Avoidance of the vernacular refers to avoiding the vernacular expressions of Medieval Chinese, most of which newly emerged in Northern China. The editors usually deleted those colloquial words or replaced them with classic expressions.The “retro” attempt of the Southern edition was to replace the new expressions in the Northern edition with classical literary Chinese of the pre-Qin period. In different historical periods, the Chinese language had different expressions to convey the same concept, and those language elements of different ages may represent different writing styles. In general, the old expressions are solemn and elegant, while the new ones are more lively and plain. In order to present the Buddhist translation in a gorgeous style, the Southern edition often changed the new vernacular elements of the Northern Edition into more classical expressions. The “standardization” work of the Southern Edition was to delete and change the hybrid Buddhist Chinese in the Northern Edition in order to make the language of translation more grammatically correct and closer to the language of native Chinese literature. There are many words and syntaxes in the Northern Edition that are exclusive to Buddhist Chinese, which have never been found or are very rare in the non-Buddhist Chinese texts. These expressions with characteristics of Buddhist Chinese can be regarded as variants of standard Chinese. The Southern Edition replaced these unique expressions with the common expressions in standard Chinese at that time. The purpose of such a modification was to pursue a classic writing style so that the language of the translated version was more in line with the general rules of morphology and syntax of standard Chinese of that period.
真大成. “文有过质”发微： 试论南北本《大般涅槃经》改易的语体动机[J]. 浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版), 2018, 4(5): 53-69.
Zhen Dacheng. Motives behind Genre Variants: An Analysis of the Two Editions of Mahāparinirvā?a-sūtra. JOURNAL OF ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY, 2018, 4(5): 53-69.