He translates vitakka as 'applied thought', and vicara as 'sustained thought'.
U Thittila, translates V&V as 'initial application' and 'sustained application', which is wronger than wrong, because it takes 'thought' completely out of the process.
What I just realized today, is that both translators are wrong, even in the very spot where vitakka is getting redefined in the earth kasina first jhana!
Here is an analogy. If I take a laptop computer, which is a device capable of deep thought (computation), and I give it to my grandmother who only uses the laptop as a door stop, it's still a laptop, it still has deep thought capability.
If I were to accurately translate and describe what is happening, I can not say
⛔"I gave my grandmother a door stop dead weight to be a door stop."
Instead, if I'm an honest person with integrity, what I would say is:
✅ "I gave grandmother a laptop with deep thought, and she only USES it as a door stop, to mount it on the floor next to the door, and let it strike and thresh and sustain the door to keep it from moving."
Do you understand? The laptop is not a doorstop, and you can not translate it as 'door stop'.
The laptop is being used as a door stop in Vism. when it redefines what first jhana means (to be different than EBT first jhana).
Similarly, 'vitakka' still means 'thinking' outside of jhana,
still means 'thinking' inside first jhana of EBT and Vism.,
and still means 'thinking' even on the very lines below where Vism. is redefining the role of 'vitakka'.
The only appropriate place to translate vitakka as 'initial application', is in Abhidhamma scripture that is quoting EBT text being used in an EBT way, and clarify that they're overriding that with a new Abhidhamma meaning that wasn't in the EBT. And even in that situation, "initial application" should be a parenthetical comment, and not a translation of 'vitakka'.
⛔Vism. V&V in full
ayaṃ tāva vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehīti ettha atthappakāsanā.
|This, in the first place, is the explanation of the meaning of the words “quite secluded from sense desires, secluded from unprofitable things.”|
♦ 71. ettāvatā ca paṭhamassa jhānassa pahānaṅgaṃ dassetvā
|88.So far the factors abandoned by the jhāna have been shown.|
idāni sampayogaṅgaṃ dassetuṃ sa-vitakkaṃ sa-vicārantiādi vuttaṃ.
|And now, in order to show the factors associated with it, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought is said.|
tattha vitakkanaṃ vitakko,
| Herein, applied thinking (vitakkana) is applied thought (vitakka);|
ūhananti vuttaṃ hoti.
|hitting upon, is what is meant.25|
svāyaṃ ārammaṇe cittassa abhiniropanalakkhaṇo,
|It has the characteristic of directing the mind on to an object (mounting the mind on its object).|
|Its function is to strike at and thresh—|
tathā hi tena yogāvacaro ārammaṇaṃ vitakkāhataṃ vitakkapariyāhataṃ karotīti vuccati.
|for the meditator is said, in virtue of it, to have the object struck at by applied thought, threshed by applied thought.|
ārammaṇe cittassa ānayanapaccupaṭṭhāno.
|It is manifested as the leading of the mind onto an object.|
♦ vicaraṇaṃ vicāro,
|Sustained thinking (vicaraṇa) is sustained thought (vicāra);|
anusañcaraṇanti vuttaṃ hoti.
|continued sustainment (anusañcaraṇa), is what is meant.|
|It has the characteristic of continued pressure on (occupation with) the object.|
|Its function is to keep conascent [mental] states [occupied] with that.|
|It is manifested as keeping consciousness anchored [on that object].|
Also, you can not translate vitakka with an anachronismModern translators translating 'vitakka' as 'initial application' or 'placing the mind' and placing it back into the EBT suttas, are committing fraud. It's an anachronism. It would be like if we were to go back in time 100 years, to 1920, and then rewriting all the books, replacing/translating the word 'gay' with the word 'homosexual'. That's an anachronism. 100 years ago, 'gay' meant being happy, light hearted. It's only 40 years later in the late 1960's that it started taking on a redefined meaning of 'homosexual.'
How do you think people from 1920 would react if you suddenly replaced their definition of 'gay' with 'homosexual'? They would be very confounded. And probably not happy that you forcefully override convention of a well established word and meaning. They would not be feeling 'gay' at all, in any sense of the word.
Similarly, vitakka means 'thinking' in EBT, 'thinking' in early Abhidhamma, 'thinking' in Vimuttimagga. It's only late Abhidhamma after Vism. where they understand vitakka in first jhana to mean 'initial application.'