Translation talk:Tao Te Ching

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Information about this edition
Edition: Collaborative Wikisource translation, original edition published circa 600 BCE.
Contributor(s): Luthinya, Nikoladie, Edmon, 百家姓之四, Pasicles
Level of progress: 50%.svg50%: not proofread or standardised.
Notes: Volunteers are needed to rework this translation

See Translation talk:Laozi (E.T. Tan translation) for former disscussion.

An Enormous Gratitude[edit]

To Nikoladie: I figured that it was you who constructed the absolutely superb introduction to my translations and even made the effort to post the Chinese texts I had never the time to find. You have truly made the contents and presentation of this page an absolute marvel and I may only express my humblest respect and gratitude by not changing a word of it. due respect, Luthinya 11:22, 29 September 2006 (UTC)


Why only the first 15 verses? -ML (01/30/06)

I'm really sorry but as I'm translating this myself, and given that I have no technical expertise in the subject the work has been rather slow, and is continually under revision due to the arrivals of new interpretations if I should read the same verses again. I do apologise this to all Wikisource users and I hope I should soon be able to find a tag saying that the work is still under construction to avoid future confusions. --Luthinya 13:05 01 February 2007

I Ching[edit]

I gather that this is the i ching, though under a slightly different name. As this is generally known & most frequently known in English as the I Ching shouldn't that be the title. What is the reason for titling it Tao te Ching? AllanHainey 15:08, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

I think you are slightly confused over these works. The I Ching, though perhaps akin to the Tao te Ching in principle as they are both important works of Chinese Taoism, is a collaborative work written over many centuries in a form alike to that of an oracle, yet in giving advice concerning the treatment of certain situations rather than simply explaining what the different possible combinations of sticks may symbolise, it has become of book of wisdom and Eastern thoughts exceeding the levels of common soothsaying. The Tao, on the other hand, should we believe its 'author' to have real historical existence, is the work of one man given the respected name of Lao Tzu, living 2500 years ago. It is very hard to summarise its contents except only as The Book of the Way and Its Many Virtues, yet it is generally recognized as one of the fathering works of Taoism in China that laid down the fundations of the 'religion's' essential philosophical practices. Of course, having been written so long ago it is hard to imagine that the contents of the book have survived exactly till this day with no alterations, yet should we choose to believe so it has came from the thoughts of one man that has profoundly influenced many, even if not particularly collaborated by many other wise men. There is nothing really resembling an oracle within the Tao, and its similarities with I Ching is mainly in the fundamental philosophies of Taoism and its many advices upon the correct actions in various situations. It is unlikely that Lao Tzu participated in the writing of I Ching, since I believe that to be written at a much later date. If I had chose to translate I Ching instead you would have seen many pictures of hexagrams corresponding to their meaning and advices on what to do under such an influence etc., yet the Tao is not essentially based upon oracle- making, and thus certainly not the same book as the I Ching, despite their numerous similarites I have listed above.

I think perhaps you are misled by the ending of Ching within the title of both these books- in that case I should be able to say with reasonable certainty that Ching meant only scripture or book in Chinese. But no- despite all their similarities the Tao te Ching and the I Ching have never been recognized as exactly the same book, and I would not be so disgraceful as to place them under the same title or confuse them literarily as one. --Luthinya 16:17 29 January 2006

Oh I forgot I left some comments on Author talk:Lao Tzu too about why he is cited as the author? AllanHainey 15:10, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

Host another translation[edit]

While I think your embarking on such a translation is laudable, completing it is likely to take several years. In the meanwhile I think wikisource should take up one of the better known free translations such as

As it is copyrighted we can't. To host it here would be a breach of the translators copyright. AllanHainey 12:49, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
It's licensed under the GPL: take a look at the copyright link at top. -- 02:46, 18 August 2006 (UTC)


This is a great contribution to wikisource -thank you Luthinya. Freely distributable, native translations of the TTC are not easy to find which makes this endeavour significant. Best of luck for continuation and helpful collaboration with this translation in the future. Unregistered Passerby 12 April 2006


Tao Te Ching (Wikisource translation) and Tao Te Ching (Wikisource translation) are being merged into this page, per "Tao Te Ching (redundant translations)" (Proposed deletions, October 2006). I moved them to /Edmon draft and /Lee draft (respectively) until we finish merging them. —[admin] Pathoschild 03:44, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

I finished merging them. 百家姓之四 02:24, 29 April 2007 (UTC)


Hello, under what license are you releasing this text? I presume GNU Free Documentation License? thanks!

Chapter 4, missing some original text[edit]

According to my sources and the Chinese version available at , the Chapter 4 is missing a fragment in the original version, and therefore in the translation (although this is a bit hard to say since the translation seems to be quite liberal). The missing fragment:


unsigned comment by (talk) 20:33, 15 January 2008.

The sentence there “挫其銳,解其紛,和其光,同其塵。” is generally acknowledged to be a situation called cuojian(错简). I don't know how to translate cuojian... but it means that it should be deleted at least in the translation part. 百家姓之四 06:44, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Alternate sequencing of "chapters"[edit]

I applaud your work, and am enjoying this reading of one of my favorite texts.

I am concerned, however, that in light of information I recently found, your translation might be subject to certain criticisms, and I wanted to inform you of that information.

I recently found a "Tao Te Ching" translation by Victor H. Mair, published in 1990 by Bantam Books. In the Introduction, Mair cites the discovery of new TTC manuscripts, found in 1973 at "Ma-wang-tui" in China. He asserts that these newly-found manuscripts are "at least a half a millennium older than commonly translated versions" and that his new translation is "far more accurate and reliable than any published previously." He claims to have been able to resolve a number of ambiguities in the traditional texts, and has re-sequenced many chapters in accordance with the newly-found older texts. Whether his assertions are true or not, I cannot say.

However, I would anticipate that other readers of his and your translations might raise this issue, and that you might want to be prepared to handle their questions or comments.

Best regards. tw68.36.6.147 18:52, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

His assertions are right! Mawangdui Boshu is acknowledged in China Mainland to be a lot better than the popular Wangbi Edition. 百家姓之四 01:08, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Were the Traditional and Mawangdui Editions Merged?[edit]

I read the above note on merging. Was a traditional version of the Dao De Jing merged with the Mawangdui version or was it just two versions of the Mawangdui? I believe that both versions are useful and should both be done. I am aware that the version translated by James Legge is already part of Wikisource; however, the vocabulary and style of people writing in the mid 1800 is not exactly what a modern person is looking for. Geminni 09:56, 30 December 2009

It would be a great help if the source of the original Chinese text were provided. Specifically, is it the Wang Bi recension, the Hoshang Gong, the Mawangtui -- or a blend of these? I'm hoping it is a specific copy of one of the first 3 recensions. -- Llywrch (talk) 22:09, 28 July 2019 (UTC)

A Huge Project: Some Questions on Scope and the Translation[edit]

After asking my initial question above, I spent about three hours on the internet following links to see what I could find. Since the two Mawangdui and the Guodian versions were found, the new material along with the traditional version make what and how to proceed with a translation of the Laozi a point of discussion. Should a translation be undertaken noting each variant of the text or should several translation be undertaken - one for each text? Perhaps some kind of combination with links would be good? Any of these options is a major undertaking that will require years. Further, how should different English interpretations be treated? I personally did not accept the translation of 道可道也,非恆道也 as it was done. However, the discussion of how it was arrived at under the 'Editing section' was excellent. Perhaps these ideas and considerations should be linked or footnoted and not just buried in the editing section.

For reference purposes, this following URL will link to 114 different English translations - It also links to translations in other languages. Another very useful site is --Geminni (talk) 21:17, 30 December 2009 (UTC)


This is a great contribution and a very readable and useful translation. Keep up the good work! -Tom Haws unsigned comment by (talk) 13:06, 16 December 2010 (UTC).

There is a wrong translation[edit]

I want to tell you the first four lines of chapter 2 are incorrectly translated. It should say "Everyone knows what beauty is; That is because there is ugliness in the world; Everyone knows what goodness is; That is because there is evilness." unsigned comment by Waaert (talk) 16:13, 12 October 2013 (UTC).