ponder

The Greek that is translated as “ponder” in English is translated as “continually think-about” in Tboli, “turn around in the mind” in Batak Toba, “puzzle forth, puzzle back” in Sranan Tongo (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel), “constantly setting down her visions” in Mairasi (source: Enggavoter 2004), “carried all those words in her heart and then sat thinking” in Enga (source: Adam Boyd on his blog), or “moved them in her heart” (bewegte sie in ihrem Herzen) (German Luther translation).

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).

leap

The Greek that is often translated in English as “leap (or: leaped)” is translated with appropriate idioms as “trampled” (Javanese), “shook-itself” (Kituba), “wriggled” (Thai), “danced” (Taroko), “stirred” (Toraja-Sa’dan), “sprawled” (Batak Toba), “played” (Shipibo-Conibo). In Dan the clause has to be “her stomach moved” since “leaping” sounded vulgar. (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

Bill Michell (in Omanson 2001, p. 431) explains why in Cusco Quechua the women on the translation team had to intervene to correct a translation that was too literal:

“In the [Cusco Quechua] project in Peru the first draft of Luke’s Gospel was done by a man. In the case of Luke 1:41 his translation was quite literal. He had the unborn child physically jumping, unhampered and unhindered. This was met with some laughter from the women on the team. They suggested an onomatopoeic expression to communicate the sensation of a sudden movement in the womb: wawaqa ‘wat’ak’ nirqan — ‘the child said, ‘Wat’ak!” The child didn’t jump, it ‘spoke’! This times there were smiles instead of laughter as the women recognized something that was authentically their own.”

own city

The Greek that is translated as “(his) own city” in English is translated in Batak Toba as “his clan-origin” or literally “the trunk of his nangka-tree” (the strong, but slow growing nangka, or Jack-fruit, tree is being used metaphorically of the compound of a well-to-do family which remained in the same village for generations).

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 only begotten son / (one and) only son.

Mary / Martha / Lazarus (relative age)

Many languages have terms for siblings that define whether one is younger or older in relation to another sibling.

In Fuyug, Tae’, Batak Toba, and Chinese, Martha was assumed to be the older of the two sisters because she is mentioned first. (Sources: David Clark [Fuyug] and Reiling / Swellengrebel)

Navajo translates accordingly but for a different reason: “since Martha seemed to take the responsibility of the housework, she was probably the older of the two.” (Source: Wallis 2000, p. 103f.)

In Fuyug Lazarus is assumed to be the oldest sibling on the grounds that he died first. (Source: David Clark)

reprimand

The Greek that is translated as “reprimanded” or “reproached” is translated in Batak Toba as “to hit-with words.”

remarkable things, strange things

The Greek that is translated as “remarkable things” or “strange things” in English is translated as “what will be-denied by those who hear it” in Tae’ (version of 1933), “what never yet has happened” in Batak Toba, “things we don’t understand”in Ekari, and “things causing-surprise” in Pohnpeian.

generation

The Greek that is translated into English as “(this) generation” is translated as “the people now” into Chol, “those who are in space now” into Tzeltal or “you people” into Tlahuitoltepec Mixe. (Source: Bratcher / Nida; Mixe: Robert Bascom)

Generic terms for the Greek that is translated as “generation” include “(people of one) layer” (Ekari, Toraja-Sa’dan, Batak Toba), or “one storey of growing” (Highland Totonac, using a term also denoting a storey or floor of a building). (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

See also generations and all generations.

abyss, bottomless pit

The Greek that is transliterated as “abyss” or translated as “bottomless pit” in English is translated as “unfathomably deep place” or “land below” in Indonesian, “land below” in Batak Toba, or “the deep where the earth opens its mouth” in Sranan Tongo (a term well-known from folk tales).

cast lots

The Greek that is translated as “casting” or “drawing lots” in English is often translated with a specific idiom, such as “to take out bamboo slips” — 掣 籤 chè qiān (in most Chinese Bibles), “each to pick-up which is-written (i.e. small sticks inscribed with characters and used as slots)” (Batak Toba), a term for divination by means of reed stalks (Toraja-Sa’dan).

In some cases a cultural equivalent is not available, or it is felt to be unsuitable in this situation, e.g. in Ekari where “to spin acorns” has the connotation of gambling, one may have to state the fact without mentioning the means, e.g. “it came to him,” (source for this and all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel). In Shipibo-Conibo there was no equivalent for “casting lots” so the translation for Mark 15:24 is descriptive: “they shook little things to decide what each one should take” (source: Nida 1952, p. 47).

Other solutions include:

  • Purari: “throw shells” (source: David Clark)
  • Kwara’ae (in Acts 1:26) “they played something like dice to find out who of the two God chose (God revealed his will that way)” (source: Carl Gross)
  • Navajo: “draw straws”
  • Yatzachi Zapotec “raffle”
  • Chol “choose by a game” (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125)
  • Chichimeca-Jonaz: “threw one or two little hard things that had a sign…to see which person it would be”
  • Kekchí: “tried with luck
  • Lalana Chinantec: “there were little things they played with that made evident who it would be who would be lucky”
  • Chuj: “entered luck upon them”
  • Ayutla Mixtec: “put out luck” (Source for this and five above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p 86ff.)

In North Alaskan Inupiatun a term for “gambling” is used. The same Inupiatun term is also used in Esther 3:7, “though there winning and losing is not in view, but rather choosing by chance” (source: Robert Bascom)

The stand-alone term that is translated “lots” in English is translated as “two pieces of potsherd” in Highland Totonac. (Source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.)

pregnant

The Greek and Hebrew that are translated as “(become) pregnant” in English is rendered in Sranan Tongo and Kituba, “having two bodies” (Indonesian), “be-of-womb” (Sinhala), “heavy” (Balinese), “in-a-fortunate-state” (Batak Toba). (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

In Kafa it is translated as “having two lives.” (Source: Loren Bliese)

In Mairasi it is translated as “have a soul [ghost].” (Source: Enggavoter, 2004)