differing language registers for Psalm 2

In the 1852 translation of the Psalms into Javanese by Johann F.C. Gericke, the translator attempted to highlight the different voices and sections of the psalm by using different language styles or sociolects of Javanese. Ngoko , a “top-down” register, was used when senior people communicated to people junior in age or rank, and kromo , a “bottom-up” and more ornate register, was used to address superiors and elders. According to Gericke (quoted in Solleveld, cited below) “If one sought to use one and the same language in the entire Psalm, no Javanese would understand it. The difference between Kromo and Ngoko is often as big as between Dutch and Polish.”

  • In verse 1 and 2, the psalmist uses kromo
  • In verse 3, the enemies of the king in Zion and rebels use ngoko
  • In verse 4 and 5, the pslamist again uses kromo
  • In verse 6, God himself is quoted in ngoko, but in a style differing from that of the rebels
  • In the first half of verse 7, the anointed king speaks kromo
  • From the second half of verse 7 and verses 8 and 9, containing the words of the Lord to his Anointed One, ngoko is used again
  • In verses 10, 11, and 12, the psalmist uses kromo in his admonition to the rebels.

(Source: Floris Solleveld in A Tale of Two Translators from the Global Bible project)

Source for Javanese language registers and the different sections of Psalm 2.

whoever digs a pit will fall into it

The now commonly-used German idiom wer (anderen) eine Grube gräbt, fällt selbst hinein, meaning any evil planned for others will come back to oneself was first coined in 1534 in the German Bible translation by Martin Luther. (Source: Zetzsche)

For other idioms or terms in German that were coined by Bible translation, see here.

the king of today will die tomorrow

The Greek that is translated in English as “the king of today will die tomorrow” or similar is translated in the German Luther Bible 2017 with the literally sounding couplet Heute König, morgen tot, “today king, dead tomorrow.” (Source: Jost Zetzsche)

heavy stone to test them

The Greek that is translated in English as “heavy stone to test them” or similar is translated in the German Luther Bible 2017 with the common expression Prüfstein, verbat. “testing stone” (meaning something that one can prove oneself on). (Source: Jost Zetzsche)

no healing

The Greek that is translated in English as “no healing” or similar is translated in the German Luther Bible 2017 with the common idiom (gegen Hochmut ist) kein Kraut gewachsen, verbat. “there is no healing herb against pride” (meaning “nothing can cure pride”). This works particularly well in combination with the second part of the verse (“for an evil plant has taken root in him” or similar in English). (Source: Jost Zetzsche)

crown

The Greek that is translated in English as “crown” is translated in the German Luther Bible 2017 as Siegeskranz or “victory (laurel) wreath.” (Source: Jost Zetzsche)

See also crown.

while gentle silence enveloped all things

The Greek that is translated in English as “while gentle silence enveloped all things” or similar is translated in the German Luther Bible 2017 lyrically as als tiefes Schweigen das All umfing or “while deep silence enveloped the cosmos.” (Source: Jost Zetzsche)

complete verse (Proverbs 17:2 in Southern Sotho)

This verse is translated in the Southern Sotho Bibele of 1989 as

Mohlanka ya masene
a ka busa mora
a busa mora ya sethoto wa monga hae
a arolelwa lefa jwalo ka bana ba monga hae

Or

“a wise servant
can rule over a son,
rule over a stupid son of his master,
benefit from the inheritance like the children of his master.”

In this example, the most prominent oral feature that is represented in the Hebrew text is syntactic parallelism. This means that an argument about “a wise servant” is presented in a “staircase format.” The wise servant can do two things: (a) rule over a stupid son (b) so that ultimately, he (the wise son) benefits from the inheritance of his (stupid son) master exactly the way his master’s children will benefit. The “staircase format”, or building up of an argument or rather the syntactic parallelism of the Hebrew text is clearly represented and further enhanced [in the Southern Sotho translation] by the repetition of “he will rule over a shameful son.”

(Source: Tshokolo J. Makutoane in Religions 2024, 15(2), p. 190)