The Hebrew that is typically translated as “banner” in English is translated in Natügu as nc nqngq: “rooster tail.”

Brenda Boerger (in Beerle-Moor / Voinov, p. 164) tells the story of that translation:

“Both bushes and trees use nc ‘tree’ as the first part of their compound forms. The nc nqngq or ‘rooster tail’ is a waist-high bush having long, narrow reddish leaves. While translating a battle text from the Psalms, we needed to find a translation equivalent to ‘banner’ or ‘standard’. Mr. Simon [the native language translator] told me that, previously, a war leader would cut rooster tail branches and put them in the back waistband of his loincloth to identify himself as the nqrlrvea ‘war leader’ during battle. The red color of the leaves made it easy for his warriors to find and follow him during battle. The war leader could also remove the leaves from his waistband and wave them in the air to rally his men to him. Alternatively, he could tie the branches to a stick to be flown as a battle standard. These two latter actions were what gave the secondary meaning of ‘banner’ or ‘standard’. Therefore, we used this concept to translate Psalm 60:4, which reads: Kxetu, nim ngrlrvea ngrgr. Glalzm nc nqngq bagr. ‘Bigman, you are our war leader. Lift up the ‘rooster tail banner’ for us.’

“As it turns out, even though inter-clan warfare is no longer practiced on Santa Cruz, younger people are still able to understand the practice today because the nc nqngq is integrally related to Santa Cruz’s most culturally significant dance, the nelc dance. Those who lead the dance wear nc nqngq branches just like the war leaders did previously. The senior translator’s testing of the passage in several villages confirmed that the meaning is accessible to younger speakers who can derive the accurate meaning from context based on their knowledge of the use of the leafy branches in the nelc dance.

“Turning to another tree metaphor, the sea trumpet or beach cordi is called nc niglq in Natügu. It grows close to the sea and can become quite tall, with thick, spreading branches. It has light orange trumpet-shaped flowers, which are favored by the small, red-colored mzngra bird. This habitat is significant because the feathers of this bird species are used to make either Irdq red feather money coils or nceapu red feather money sticks.

“To Santa Cruz people, a man who has a niglq tree where the mzngra birds are found has a good chance of acquiring wealth. As a result, the tree name is associated with wealth and prestige and has acquired four metonymic meanings in which the name of the tree is substituted for other nouns. The four metonymies are: important person, important person’s house, treasure, and throne. So, someone having this tree near his home is an important person, and he can be said to come and go to the tree, rather than to the house. Further, he has access to treasure since the tree is a means to wealth. And finally, nc niglq can also mean ‘throne’ or ‘seat of power’, in that an important man who has a niglq tree on his property might sit at its base to converse with others, and by association, the place where the important one sits is his throne.”

“In addition to the red feather money coils which were previously used for paying bride price, the red feathers also come in a stick form, called nceapu, where they are glued to a stick about 10-12 inches long. The red feather money stick itself also has the metaphorical meaning of ‘rich, wise man,’ which was used to describe King Solomon in the Natügu scriptures.”

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