virgin

The Greek that is mostly translated as “virgin” in English can be translated as “woman that is untouched” in Batak Toba or “a woman with a whole (i.e. unopened) body” in Uab Meto. In some cases, however, such terms, or descriptive phrases like, “a woman who has not been with a man,” are felt to be too outspoken. Hence, in English versions the rendering has been toned down from “virgin,” via “maiden” (Goodspeed 1923/1935, Rieu 1954), to “girl” (New English Bible 1961/1970), and in Batak Toba from “woman that is untouched” to “girl” (lit. “female child”).

Similar words for “girl,” “unmarried young woman,” suggesting virginity without explicitly stating it, are found in Marathi, Apache, or Kituba. Cultural features naturally influence connotations of possible renderings, for instance, the child marriage customs in some Tboli areas, where the boy and girl are made to sleep together at the initial marriage, but after that do not live together and may not see each other again for years. Hence, the closest attainable equivalent, “female adolescent,” does not imply that a young girl is not living with her husband, and that she never had a child, but leaves uncertain whether she has ever slept with a male person or not. Accordingly, in Luke one has to depend on Luke 1:34 to make clear that Mary and Joseph had not had sexual intercourse. A different problem is encountered in Pampanga, where birhen (an adaptation of Spanish “virgen” — “virgin”), when standing alone, is a name of the “Virgin Mary.” To exclude this meaning the version uses “marriageable birhen,” thus at the same time indicating that Mary was relatively young. (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

In Navajo, the term that is used is “no husband yet” (Source: Wallis, p. 106) and in Gola the expression “trouser girl.” “In the distant past young women who were virgins wore trousers. Those who were not virgins wore dresses. That doesn’t hold true anymore, but the expression is still there in the language.” (Source: Don Slager)

The term in Djimini Senoufo is katogo jo — “village-dance-woman” (women who have been promised but who are still allowed to go to dances with unmarried women). (Source: Übersetzung heute 3/1995)

idle talk, nonsense

The Greek that is translated into English as “nonsense” or “idle tale” is translated as “empty talk” (Uab Meto), “wind talk” (Indonesian), “carried-around story” (Ekari), “purposeless talking” (Kele), “words that-frighten without-reason” (Toraja-Sa’dan), or “talk without foundation” (Pohnpeian, Chuukese) (source for all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel), or “telling a fairy tale” (Mairasi) (source: Enggavoter 2004).

betrothed, engaged

The Greek that is translated as “engaged” or “betrothed” in English is translated in Pampanga as “having-been-given-approval” and Tagalog as “having-been-brought-before-the authorities” (both implying a couple which has already applied to the local civil registrar or priest for a license to marry). Tboli uses “braceleted” (a figurative expression for the giving of property for the dowry, an act that finalizes the marriage contract) and Uab Meto has “publicly pledged to marry (lit. “reciprocally-bound”)” (a term indicating that an interchange of gifts as a pledge for marriage has taken place).

their eyes were prevented from recognizing

The Greek that is translated as “their eyes were prevented from recognizing” in English is translated with idioms in languages like Shona with “their eyes were clouded, or, shrouded/blindfolded,” Uab Meto with “their eyes were misty” or with a simile such as “their eyes were just as if they had been caused to be shut” in Marathi.

slow of heart

The Greek that is often translated as “slow of heart” in English is translated as “the heart is hard” in Zarma, “very heavy in heart” in Uab Meto, “blocked-hearted” in Indonesian, “lazy to think” in Tae’, “having a heart that delays” in Shona (translation of 1963), or “failing-heart-people” in Fulah.

horn of salvation, mighty savior

The Greek that is translated literally as “horn of salvation” and more idiomatically as “mighty savior” in most English versions is translated along those lines in many languages as well. In Uab Meto, however the term for “horn” is also used metaphorically for “hero” and in Balinese the term for “tusk,” which suggests “champion/hero” (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel).

In Uma, it is translated as “a powerful War chief who brings salvation” and in Una as “a very powerful Person to us who will rescue people” (source: Dick Kroneman).

hate

The Greek that is translated as “who hate us” is translated in some languages through the negation of its opposite, such as “who do not love/like us” (Ekari). Other solutions include “who cannot see us in the eye (i.e. who cannot stand us at any price)” (Sranan Tongo) or “the ones with swelling jugular vein (because of suppressed anger)” (Uab Meto).

See also hate.

firstborn

The Greek that is translated as “firstborn” in English is translated “he/she that opens the gown” in Batak Toba (because formerly a woman stopped wearing a gown and started using a bodice after the birth of her first child) and “he/she that damages the stalk (i.e. the body)” in Uab Meto. (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

In Bawm Chin, the term can imply the existence of younger siblings, so a translation is needed that brings out the fact that Jesus is superior to all else, not just the first of a series. (Source: David Clark)

See also firstborn (Jesus).

distracted by all the preparations

The Greek that is translated as something like “(Martha) was distracted by all the preparations” is translated as “all kinds of work to do had gone to Martha’s heart” (Tzeltal), “Martha was wearing-herself-out how/the-way her feeding them” (Tboli), “because much work fell to Martha, her agitation flew/flared-up” (Marathi), “Martha’s mind was stirred up with excess of service” (Zarma), “she danced to and fro in serving” (Uab Meto), “much work overwhelmed Martha” (Sranan Tongo) (source for all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel), or “her face kept on getting turned” (Mairasi) (source: Enggavoter 2004).

serpent

The Greek that is translated as “serpent” in English is translated in Uab Meto as koko, a semi-mythical animal.

Pieter Middelkoop (in The Bible Translator 1956, p. 130ff.) explains: “In various translations [the Hebrew term] nachash is rendered by ‘serpent’, but the difficulty is that in Uab Meto there is no general word for serpent. Curiously enough they use a general word, kauna, including all kinds of insects, iguana, lizards and serpents. But the python is never called kauna: it has its own name in Uab Meto, i.e. liuksain. But Atoni people [the groups that speaks Uab Meto] never mention its name because it is taboo and so circumscribe it as, Uis meto, ‘Lord of the dry land.’ And whereas lizards, etc. are also called kauna, the crocodile is excepted, never being called kauna. Its name, besimnasi, is also taboo and therefore it is indicated by the title, Uis Oe, that means ‘Lord of the water.’

“Each kind of serpent is indicated by its own name, preceded by the word kauna, so, for instance, kauna umeke is a kind of serpent, the principal food of which are mice, and therefore it is also called kaunifo, ’mice serpent’; and kaun usau, a kind of poisonous viper. Consequently it is impossible to render serpent’ in Uab Meto with kauna because it covers too wide an area of very different species. (…)

“Now in Timor there is a kind of semi-mythical animal, i.e. koko. There are three kinds of koko:

  1. koko manu with legs and wings, a kind of flying lizard;
  2. koko poli (koko belu), a kind of springing reptile using its tail to spring;
  3. koko kauna, a very big kind; some old Atonis told me that it is nearly as big as a python, but different in hue. However, the explanations concerning its size differ rather much, but anyhow the koko is a mythical figure in the stories, that can speak and converse with man.

“(…) One cannot say that it is only a mythical figure, because the Atonis say that their ancestors have seen it and had intercourse with it. Nowadays, when one asks if anybody has seen it, the general reply is in the negative. As an exception, one may meet someone who says that he has.

“It is quite clear that the koko in the belief of the Atonis is of the same species as the nachash in the Scripture.”

See also birds or four-footed animals or reptiles and snake.

came to himself, came to his senses

The Greek that is translated as “he came to himself” or “he came to his senses” is (back-) translated in a number of ways:

  • Sranan Tongo: “he came to get himself”
  • Tzeltal: “his heart arrived”
  • Thai (translation of 1967): “he sensed himself” (implying realization that he had done wrong)
  • Kekchí: “it fell into his heart”
  • Tagalog: “his self came back”
  • Yaka, Chuukese, Pohnpeian: “he came to wisdom (or: became wise)”
  • Kituba: “he understood himself”
  • Uab Meto: “his heart came to life again”
  • Kaqchikel: “he came out of his stupor”
  • Lomwe, Yao: “he was turned, or, aroused (as from sleep), in his heart”
  • Javanese: “he became-aware of his own condition”
  • Kele: “he thought again about his affair” (source for all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Mairasi: “his own liver’s sky split” (In Mairasi, the liver is the seat of emotions) (source: Enggavoter 2004)