[The below is posted by the request of Mr. Aaron Fisher, Senior Editor of the Art of Tea Magazine. The article solicits for your kind opinion on the use of the Chinese Pinyin vs. the standardized English language when it comes to tea-related nomenclatures. It is a poll. Your opinion, therefore, will have bearing on the future content of the Art of Tea magazine. Mr. Fisher also requests for your help by posting the poll on your blog -- if you are a tea blog administrator -- to widen the polling population. A discussion is currently ensuing at T Ching. Thank you. ~ Phyll]
I am hoping that you can help me think about something:
As Issue 3 of the Art of Tea lands on many of your doorsteps and you begin to read, you might think about whether you would rather learn the Chinese terms for all things tea related, via roman pinyin of course, or develop some kind of standardized English translation.
Personally, I like the Chinese as it makes cross-cultural communication easy, as well as facilitates true understanding of something that was born in a distant, ancient culture. And English definitely has the ability to absorb foreign words, growing as it has adopted words from French and other language’s nouns as they are imported– even from Asia, like “wok” or “wasabi” for example. When I studied the Dao in college, my first teacher gave us several translations of a few of the more important texts, saying that no one translation of anything can bring real equivalence. For that same reason, I studied Sanskrit and Pali in my younger days. In other words, which is clearer: “Cooked”, “Ripe”, “Black”, “Artificially Fermented”, etc. or perhaps is it better to have all of them?
Still, whatever your thoughts are, I would greatly appreciate hearing them as the English scholarship of tea-related books, translations and articles progresses forward I think this will be an important issue.