right mind, sound-minded

The Greek that is rendered as “in his right mind” or “sound-minded” in English is translated as “his mind had returned” (Amganad Ifugao), “his heart was sitting down” (Tojolabal), “his head was healed” (Chicahuaxtla Triqui), “his mind was straightened” (Tzotzil), “with a clear mind again” (Javanese), “come to his senses” (Indonesian) (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida), “come to his cleanness/purity” (Marathi), “(his) thoughts having become right” (Ekari), “his intelligence having-become clean again” (Sranan Tongo), “having-mind” (Batak Toba), “settled his mind” (Tae’), “settled/fixed” (Balinese) (source for this and five above: Reiling / Swellengrebel), or “had well-split vision” (Mairasi) (source: Enggavoter 2004).

save yourself and us

The Greek that is translated as “save yourself and us” in English has to be translated in a more differentiated manner in languages that use honorific forms. In Balinese, for instance, the translation is “save your life (honorific) and the life (non-honorific) of the two of us.”

breathed his last

The Greek that is often translated in English as “he breathed his last” is translated with idioms that include “his life-force broke-off” (Indonesian, Balinese), “his breath stopped (or: was-exhausted” (Ekari, Sranan Tongo), “his breath (and body) parted-with-each-other” (Toraja-Sa’dan).

addressing Moses and Elijah with a different pronoun than the disciples, complete verse (Luke 9:34)

Balinese uses 4 different 3rd person pronouns: two to indicate important and very important persons (dane and ida), one to speak of a person of lower standing but in a familiar manner, and one to speak of such a person in a polite manner (ia and ipun). In the case of this verse where the Greek (and English) does not give any indication to whom the three instances of the third person plural pronoun refers to, the Balinese has to make a disctinction: jeg wenten mega nyayubin Ida miwah dane sareng sami, tur rikala Ida miwah dane kasayubin antuk megane punika, sisiane makatetiga punika pada karesresan: “a cloud came and overshadowed them (Moses and Elijah — marked as very important); and they (the disciples — marked as important) were terrified as they (Moses and Elijah — marked as very important) entered the cloud.”

Source: J.L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1963, p. 158ff.

conversion, convert, turn back

(To view the different translations of this term in a simplified graphical form on a new page, click or tap here.)

The Greek that is often rendered in English as “to be converted” or “to turn around” is (back-) translated in a number of ways:

  • Inupiaq: “to change completely”
  • Purepecha: “to turn around”
  • Highland Totonac: “to have one’s life changed”
  • Huautla Mazatec: “to make pass over bounds within”
  • San Blas Kuna: “turn the heart toward God”
  • Chol: “the heart turns itself back”
  • Highland Puebla Nahuatl: “self-heart change”
  • Pamona: “to turn away from, unlearn something”
  • Tepeuxila Cuicatec: “to turn around from the breast”
  • Luvale: “to return”
  • Balinese: “to put in a new behavior” (compare “repentance“: “to put on a new mind”)
  • Tzeltal: “to cause one’s heart to return to God” (compare “repentance”: “to cause one’s heart to return because of one’s sin”)
  • Pedi: “to retrace one’s step” (compare “repentance”: “to become untwisted”)
  • Uab Meto: “to return” (compare “repentance”: “to turn the heart upside down”)
  • Northwestern Dinka: “to turn oneself” (compare “repentance”: “to turn the heart”) (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • Central Mazahua: “changing the heart” (compare “repentance”: “turning back the heart”) (source: Nida 1952, p. 40)
  • Western Kanjobal: “to molt” (like a butterfly) (source: Nida 1952, p. 136)
  • Latvian: atgriezties (verb) / atgriešanās (noun) (“turn around / return”) which is also the same term being used for “repentance” (source: Katie Roth)

hearts burning

The Greek that is often translated as “Were not our hearts burning within us?” is translated as “a boiling comes to our hearts inside” in Marathi (an idiom for joy and enthusiasm), “drawn, as it were, our mind” in Balinese, “hurt (i.e. longing) our hearts” in Ekari, or “something was-consuming in our-heart” in Tae’ (an idiom for “we were profoundly moved”). (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

In an early version of the Bible in Sranan Tongo, the translation was Ke, hoe switi kouroe wi hatti be fili: “O, how sweet coolness did our hearts feel.” The translator “did this to avoid misunderstanding. In Sranan Tongo, when one says ‘my heart is burning’ he means ‘I am angry.'” (Source: Janini 2015, p. 33)

In Afar the phrase is translated as robti leeh innah nel oobak sugtem hinnaa?: “Wasn’t it as rain coming down on us?” (heat is bad, rain is good in the desert). (Source: Loren Bliese)

differentiated 3rd person plural pronoun

Balinese uses four different third-person pronouns: two to indicate important and very important persons (dane and ida), one to speak of a person of lower standing but in a familiar manner, and one to speak of such a person in a polite manner (ia and ipun). In the case of the Greek that is translated into English as “they had come down,” the Balinese translators translated rikala Ida sareng sisian Idane sane tetiga punika tedun saking gununge punika, akeh anake pada rauh nangkilin Ida: “when He (Ida) came down, followed by his three disciples” because Jesus could not be mentioned with the same pronoun as the disciples.

Source: J.L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1963, p. 158ff.

Exalted status of Isaiah / John the Baptist / Jeremiah and the apostles

New Testament Greek is by Balinese standards an extremely impolite language. Consider, for example, the second person pronoun. When speaking to God, to a nobleman, to a friend, to a pupil, or to a slave, the same word is used. In Balinese this is completely different. In the above examples one would differentiate various social ranks and use terms which, more or less freely translated, mean “adored one” or “he who is borne on the head”, “feet of Your Highness”, “older (or younger) brother”, “little one”, and “you”. (…) In Balinese one has to cope with three vocabularies within the language, each of which, at a moderate estimate, includes some hundreds of words. One employs the ordinary common language (“Low Balinese”) when speaking with intimates, equals, or inferiors; polite terms must, however, be used as soon as one begins to speak to one’s superiors or to strangers; and “deferential” terms are obligatory in all cases when one is so bold as to speak of parts of the body, or the acts, possessions, and qualities of important people. The Balinese sums up the two last named vocabularies under the term alus (“fine”, or “noble”): we say “High Balinese”. (…)

In Greek and in European languages such as Dutch and English the third person pronoun does not present much difficulty. In Balinese the situation becomes more complicated, for one has at least four pronouns for the third person: two to indicate important and very important persons (dané and ida), one to speak of a person of lower standing but in a familiar manner, and one to speak of such a person in a polite manner (ia and ipun). Dané, the pronoun of the slightly less important person of the third caste, is also in use for people of lower caste who through their official position, age, or ability have a right to be respected or with whom one is trying to ingratiate oneself. In former days the common people addressed a Dutch civil official as dané, but the same word was used to address his office boy. Indeed, without the cooperation of the latter it was no simple matter to get a hearing with the government official. In the translation, the word dané can generally be used for the prophets. I say generally, because there are exceptions. For example, Isaiah was a king’s son, and John and Jeremiah were the sons of priests, and as such are regarded by Balinese standards to be equivalent to the castes of the aristocracy and the Brahmins, respectively. To address them as dané would be unsuitable, and the pronoun ida is used. Where the disciples are involved, most Balinese Christians use dané, taking into consideration the honorable position occupied by the disciples as apostles in the Christian church. But in the Gospel stories these simple artisans and fishermen were not of such high standing. So here ia and ipun are used. In the Acts, however, the position of apostles such as Peter and John could be expressed by the use of the word dané.

Source: J.L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 124ff.

love for God vs. love for others

Balinese uses a honorific system with three levels of how someone can be addressed or talked about. For example, “love” of a superior for an inferior must be indicated by one term and that of an inferior for a superior by another. In the Greek phrase that is translated in English as “you shall love the Lord your God (…) and your neighbor as yourself”, Balinese translates asih subaktija ragane teken Ida Sang Hyang Widi Wasa (…) tur tresnainja sesaman ragane, buka nresnain deweke padidi: “You shall give respectful-love to God, … further, you must love your neighbor as yourself.”

Source: J.L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1963, p. 158ff.

delivered, handed down

The Greek that is translated into English as “delivered (to us)” or “handed down (to us)” is rendered as “we had heard them from the mouth of men who…” (Sranan Tongo), “to make known” (Kannada), “to show causing (us) to know” (Thai) or “to cause-to-receive” (Balinese, using a verb that also has the meaning “to bequeath an inheritance”).

Grammatical differentiation between Jesus and the disciples

In Greek and in European languages such as Dutch and English the third person pronoun does not present much difficulty. In Balinese the situation becomes more complicated, for one has at least four pronouns for the third person: two to indicate important and very important persons {dané and ida), one to speak of a person of lower standing but in a familiar manner, and one to speak of such a person in a polite manner (ia and ipun). Dané, the pronoun of the slightly less important person of the third caste, is also in use for people of lower caste who through their official position, age, or ability have a right to be respected or with whom one is trying to ingratiate oneself. (…)

These differences in the third person pronouns sometimes make it difficult to translate the plural “they.” [So the Greek what is translated as] “When they were come down from the hill” [in English] must be translated: “When He (ida) came down, followed by His disciples.”

Source: J.L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 124ff.

provided for them

Balinese uses a honorific system with three levels of how someone can be addressed or talked about. For example, when the English says that women “provided for them” there had to be a distinction. “The service to Jesus was given with great respect, humility and attachment, which must be expressed in the Balinese word. With regard to the disciples this was not the case. Thus we were forced to translate, ‘they used their possessions for the needs of Jesus and his followers, as a tribute of service to Him.’”

Source: J.L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1963, p. 158ff.