untie sandals

The Greek that is translated as “(not worthy to) untie sandals” or similar in English is translated in Awa as “because he is an important one, when he speaks I will be silent” since “the Jewish idea of not being worthy of even removing the sandals of an important person is foreign to Papua New Guinea.”

Other languages express it this way: “I am not worthy to be his servant” (Yatzachi Zapotec), “if unworthy I should even carry his burden, it would not be right” (Alekano), or “I don’t compare with him” (Tenango Otomi). (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

In Ayutla Mixtec it is translated as “I am too unworthy to perform even the lowliest of tasks for him” to avoid the wrong meaning of playing a trick by tying the sandals. In Choapan Zapotec the metaphor of the shoelaces is completely replaced by a similar one from the local culture: “I am not even important to carry his pack.” (Source for this and above: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)

See also sandal (illustration)

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