kiss (feet)

The Greek that is translated as “kissing his feet” and “kiss my feet” in these verses in English is translated in Medumba as “massaged his feet,” as people do to show reverence to a chief, especially when imploring his protection or forgiveness.

See also kiss.


The Hebrew and the Greek that is usually directly translated as “kiss” in English is translated more indirectly in other languages because kissing is deemed as inappropriate, is not a custom at all, or is not customary in the particular context (see the English translation of J.B. Phillips, 1960 in Rom. 16:16: “Give each other a hearty handshake”). Here are some examples:

  • Pökoot: “greet warmly” (“kissing in public, certainly between men, is absolutely unacceptable in Pökoot.”) (Source: Gerrit van Steenbergen)
  • Chamula Tzotzil, Ixcatlán Mazatec, Tojolabal: “greet each other warmly” or “hug with feeling” (source: Robert Bascom)
  • Afar: “gaba tittal ucuya” (“give hands to each other”) (Afar kiss each other’s hands in greeting) (source: Loren Bliese)
  • Roviana: “welcome one another joyfully”
  • Cheke Holo: “Love each other in the way-joined-together that is holy” (esp. in Rom. 16:16) or “greet with love” (esp. 1Thess. 5:26 and 1Pet. 5.14)
  • Pitjantjatjara: “And when you meet/join up with others of Jesus’ relatives hug and kiss them [footnote], for you are each a relative of the other through Jesus.” Footnote: “This was their custom in that place to hug and kiss one another in happiness. Maybe when we see another relative of Jesus we shake hands and rejoice.” (esp. Rom. 16:16) (source for this and two above: Carl Gross)
  • Balanta-Kentohe and Mandinka: “touch cheek” or “cheek-touching” (“sumbu” in Malinka)
  • Mende: “embrace” (“greet one another with the kiss of love”: “greet one another and embrace one another to show that you love one another”) (source for this and two above: Rob Koops)
  • Gen: “embrace affectionately” (source: John Ellington)
  • Kachin: “holy and pure customary greetings” (source: Gam Seng Shae)
  • Kahua: “smell” (source: David Clark) (also in Ekari and Kekchí, source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Nyanja: “to suck” (“habit and term a novelty amongst the young and more or less westernized people, the traditional term for greeting a friend after a long absence being, ‘to clap in the hands and laugh happily'”)
  • Medumba: “suck the cheek” (“a novelty, the traditional term being ‘to embrace.'”)
  • Shona (version of 1966): “to hug”
  • Balinese: “to caress” (source for this and three above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

hold my lot

The Hebrew that is translated as “you hold my lot” or “you support my lot” in English is rendered in Medumba as “you guard the back of me,” “that is to say my posterior from my head to my heels. The predominant idea in this expression is one of protection, while continuing action is indicated by the verb ‘to keep.'”

Source: Jan de Waard in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 143ff.

the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands

The Hebrew that is translated as something like “the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands” in English is rendered in Medumba as “the works of the hands of the wicked man throw him into the pit” (“‘To throw into the pit’ is a figure of speech for ‘betraying’, ‘condemning’, and the pit symbolizes a difficult situation from which there appears to be no way out.”)

Source: Jan de Waard in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 143ff.

throw filth on you

The Hebrew that is translated as “I will throw filth on you” in English (referring to the treatment of a prostitute) is rendered in Medumba with the existing expression “throw filth (ashes) at one’s back.” (“This is the way in which ‘children’ — but there is of course no age limit! — are punished by parents for having violated the existing order or some particular — sexual or non-sexual — taboo. However, at the same time, the expression ‘throw ashes at one’s back’ has entered the language in a figurative way, having the extended meaning of ‘making someone ridiculous.’ In fact, both components of punishment and making ridiculous are present here.”)

Source: Jan de Waard in The Bible Translator 1971, p. 146ff.