woman (Jesus addressing his mother)

Hre Kio reports on the translation of the Greek word into Falam Chin that is translated as “woman” in English, specifically when it refers to Jesus addressing his mother (see The Bible Translator 1988, p. 442ff.):

“No child would call his parents by their names, either half name or full name, in private or in public. To do so would show disrespect of a high degree. It would be an open insult. The only possible situation where the children might address their parents by name would be where a combination of an endearment title and the name was used as a form of introduction, and the listeners were people not familiar with the parents. For example, the son Za Hu can introduce his father to an unfamiliar audience by saying, ‘This is my father U Kaw Kaw. . .’ If he does it without saying ‘my father,’ Za Hu is creating a distance between himself and his father, but not disrespect. If he addresses his father as ‘Man!’ and his mother as ‘Woman!,’ he is in real trouble. He would be creating an image of being uncultured, disrespectful and downright contemptuous.

“That is precisely the situation we find in John 2:4 and 19:26, where Jesus addressed his mother as ‘woman’ (Greek gunai). To translate this utterance literally would be Nunau in Falam Chin, and this would be offensive to Falam readers. Although we find the same utterance in John 20:13, by two angels who say to Mary, ‘Woman, why are you crying?,’ this is not as offensive as the other uses. The difference lies in the person who said it. For the angels to say to the woman “Woman,” is acceptable. But for the son to say ‘Woman’ to his mother demonstrates utter disrespect and contempt or even extreme anger. That is precisely what we found the text of John put in the mouth of Jesus. But is that actually what Jesus meant when he said ‘Woman’? Fortunately, we are told that ‘Jesus’ use of ‘woman’ (RSV) in direct address was normal and polite. . . It showed neither disrespect nor lack of love. . .’ (quoted from: Newman / Nida 1983). In Falam, the word ‘woman’ Nunau, will have to be avoided and replaced by Ka Nu, meaning ‘My Mother.’ This is the only choice possible in the situation. ‘Woman’ (Nunau) would be insulting, and ‘mother’ Nu Nu would be childish.”

See also formal pronoun: Jesus and his mother,

proselyte

The Greek that is often translated as “proselyte” in English is translated in various ways:

  • Isthmus Mixe: “those that entered the mind of the Israelites”
  • Desano: “people who are of the same religion as the Jews”
  • San Mateo del Mar Huave: “people who were not Jews but have come to believe as the Jewish people believe”
  • Isthmus Mixe: “those who entered the mind of the Israelites”
  • Mayo: “those who live according to Jewish custom”
  • Teutila Cuicatec: “people from other nations who believe the same as those of the nation of Israel”
  • Chuj: “those who have received the religion of the Israel people”
  • Morelos Nahuatl: “those who entered the religion of the Jews”
  • Lalana Chinantec: “those who worship God as the Israel people do”
  • Chichimeca-Jonaz: “those who joined with the Jews because they went to believing like them”
  • Falam Chin: “those who entered/joined the Jews’ religious party from other tribes” (source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

my flesh will live in hope

The Greek that is translated as “my flesh will live in hope” or similar in English is translated these ways in the following languages.

  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “when my body rests in the grave I will wait what good he will do for me”
  • Morelos Nahuatl: “I have much confidence that my body will come alive”
  • Isthmus Mixe: “even though my body should die, I know that I will come to life
  • Falam Chin: “my whole body will be filled with hope”
  • Huichol: “even though my corpse is there while I wait I believe (you will not leave my soul dead)” (source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

honorific (Gen. 12:11), vocative (Gen. 12:11)

The phrase that is translated as “he said to Sarai his wife” into English presented a problem in Falam Chin. Hebrew contains no vocative (a case used in addressing or invoking a person or thing), but Falam requires one for politeness, and its absence is rude. The normal way for a husband to address his wife is “mother of X” but Sarai is childless. The Falam Chin translation ended with a sort of vocative substitute: “Let me tell you what is in my heart.”

unstable as water

The phrase that is translated as “unstable as water” or “turbulent as water” is not a natural Falam Chin comparison and is conveyed as “like a mountain stream rising and falling.”

mother's sons

In Falam Chin “your mother’s sons” sounds odd to a patrilineal society. As Rebekah had only one son, it is possible to say here “your brother’s descendants,” avoiding the word for “older brother” since Isaac thinks he is speaking to Esau.

tar and pitch

The phrase that is translated in some English versions as “tar and pitch” is rendered in Falam Chin with a phrase meaning “resin and beeswax.”

adultery

The Greek that is translated as “adultery” (typically understood as “marital infidelity”) in English is (back-) translated in the following ways:

  • Highland Totonac: “to do something together”
  • Yucateco: “pair-sin”
  • Ngäbere: “robbing another’s half self-possession” (compare “fornication” which is “robbing self-possession,” that is, to rob what belongs to a person)
  • Kaqchikel, Chol: “to act like a dog”
  • Toraja-Sa’dan: “to measure the depth of the river of (another’s) marriage.”
  • North Alaskan Inupiatun: “married people using what is not theirs” (compare “fornication” which is “unmarried people using what is not theirs”) (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • In Purari: “play hands with” or “play eyes with”
  • In Hakha Chin the usual term for “adultery” applies only to women, so the translation for the Greek term that is translated into English as “adultery” was translated in Hakha Chin as “do not take another man’s wife and do not commit adultery.”
  • In Falam Chin the term for “adultery” is the phrase for “to share breast” which relates to adultery by either sex. (Source for this and three above: David Clark)
  • In Ixcatlán Mazatec a specification needs to be made to include both genders. (Source: Robert Bascom)

See also adulterer, adulteress, and you shall not commit adultery.