unclean thing

The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “unclean thing” or similar in English is translated in Colorado as “that which is not to be approached.” (Source: Bruce Moore in: Notes on Translation 1/1992, p. 1ff.)

most holy place

The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “most holy place” or similar in English is translated in Colorado as “God’s best room.” (Source: Bruce Moore in: Notes on Translation 1/1992, p. 1ff.)

pale, pale green

The Greek that is translated as “pale green” or “pale” in English is translated in Colorado as “sickly yellow” which is used related to health. (Source: Bruce Moore in: Notes on Translation 1/1992, p. 1ff.)

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)
  • San Blas Kuna: “smell the face” (source: Claudio and Marvel Iglesias in The Bible Translator 1951, p. 85ff.)
  • 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)
  • Colorado: earlier version: “greet in a friendly way,” later revision: “kiss on the face” (Bruce Moore [in: Notes on Translation 1/1992), p. 1ff.] explains: “Formerly, kissing had presented a problem. Because of the Colorados’ limited exposure to Hispanic culture they understood the kiss only in the eros context. Accordingly, the original translation had rendered ‘kiss’ in a greeting sense as ‘greet in a friendly way’. The actual word ‘kiss’ was not used. Today ‘kiss’ is still an awkward term, but the team’s judgment was that it could be used as long as long as it was qualified. So ‘kiss’ (in greeting) is now ‘kiss on the face’ (that is, not on the lips).)

advocate, comforter, helper

The Greek that is translated as “comforter,” “advocate,” or “helper” in English is similarly difficult to translate in other languages.

Nida (1952, p. 164) notes:

“Perhaps no word in all the New Testament is so hard to translate adequately as the word ‘Comforter.’ The Greek word, generally transliterated as Paraclete, is exceedingly rich in its wealth of meaning, for it implies not only “to comfort” but also “to admonish,” “to exhort,” “to encourage,” and “to help.” To put all these meanings into one native expression is indeed difficult, and yet the missionary translator must try to find a term or phrase which will give the people an adequate picture of the unique ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“In the Tausug language of southern Philippines the people use the phrase ‘the one who goes alongside continuously.’ In this sense He is the constant companion of the believer. In Eastern Highland Otomi of central Mexico the native believers have suggested the phrase “He who gives warmth in our soul.’ One can readily see the picture of the chilled heart and life seeking comfort in the Living Word and finding in the ministry of the Spirit of God that warmth which the soul so needs if it has to live in the freezing atmosphere of sin and worldly cares.

“The Baoulé Christians speak of the Comforter as ‘He who ties up the thoughts.’ The thoughts of the worried heart are scattered every place in senseless and tormenting disorder. The Comforter ties up these distracted thoughts, and though they still exist, they are under the control of the Spirit.”

In Luba-Katanga the legal aspect of Paraclete is particularly emphasized with the term Nsenga Mukwashi, a term that’s also used in the traditional legal system, referring to a person who in court proceedings “interests himself in the people and stands by them in trouble, in other words to plead their cause and be their advocate.” (Source: Wilfred Bradnock in The Bible Translator 1953, p. 49ff.)

In South Bolivian Quechua it is translated as “the heartener (=one who make one have a heart)” (source: T.E. Hudspith in The Bible Translator 1952, p. 66ff.).

Here is another story that Nida (1952, p. 20) retells of Kare (click or tap here):

“When porters, carrying heavy loads on their heads, go on long journeys, often for as long as two or three months, they may become sick with malaria or dysentery, and in their weakness they straggle to the end of the line of carriers. Finally in complete exhaustion they may collapse along the trail, knowing full well that if they do not get to the safety of the next village, they will be killed and eaten by wild animals during the night. If, however, someone passing along the trail sees them lying there prostrate, and if he takes pity on them, stooping down to pick them up and helping them to reach the safety and protection of the next village, they speak of such a person as ‘the one who falls down beside us.’ It is this expression [that was] taken to translate ‘Comforter,’ for this is the One who sustains, protects, and keeps the children of God on their journey toward their heavenly home.”

“In Nyanja, it is translated in 1 John 2:1 by nkhoswe yotinenera: ‘mediator who speaks on our behalf.’ The nkhoswe is the traditional clan representative who speaks on behalf of individual members in negotiations involving another clan, as when a marriage is being arranged or a dispute (‘case’) is being settled. The modification yotinenera emphasizes the fact that the group as a whole requires this representation — certainly a very fitting metaphor depicting Christ’s role in pleading the case of humanity before his heavenly Father.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 78)

In Miao (Chuanqiandian Cluster) it is translated as “to get at the heart round the corner” (source Kilgour 1939, p. 150) and in Colorado as “helping Counselor” (source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.).

altar

The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “altar” in English is translated in Obolo as ntook or “raised structure for keeping utensils (esp. sacrifice),” in Muna as medha kaefoampe’a or “offering table,” in Luchazi as muytula or “the place where one sets the burden down”/”the place where the life is laid down,” in Tzotzil as “where they place God’s gifts,” and in Colorado as “table for giving to God.” (Source: Obolo: Enene Enene; Muna: René van den Berg; Tzotzil: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.; Luchzi: E. Pearson in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 160ff.; Bruce Moore in Notes on Translation 1/1992, p. 1ff.).

In the Hebraic English translation of Everett Fox it is translated as slaughter-site and likewise in the German translation by Buber / Rosenzweig as Schlachtstatt.

it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat

The Greek that is translated as ” it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat” or similar in English was translated in Colorado with the addition of “and you don’t say that he sinned in doing it.” Bruce Moore (in: Notes on Translation 1/1992, p. 1ff.) explains: “To say ‘David ate the showbread, which was lawful only for the priests to eat’, implied in Colorado that Jesus should not be criticized for doing wrong because even good people like David sin at least a little bit. The addition of the clause ‘and you don’t say that he sinned in doing it’ clarified the meaning.”

eternal life

The Greek that is translated in English as “eternal life” is translated in various ways:

Lloyd Peckham explains the Mairasi translation: “In secret stories, not knowable to women nor children, there was a magical fruit of life. If referred to vaguely, without specifying the specific ‘fruit,’ it can be an expression for eternity.”

See also eternity / forever and salvation.

complete verse (John 14:1), complete verse (John 14:2)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 14:2:

  • Ojitlán Chinantec: “In my Father’s house are many rooms for people to live in. If there were not many rooms, I would not have told you there were many. But there are, so I am going to get them arranged for you to live in.”
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “There where my Father is are many houses. If it wasn’t like that up in heaven, I would have told you that it wasn’t like that. I am going to fix up the houses that are going to be yours.”
  • Aguaruna: “There is a lot of free space, able to be lived in, in my Father’s place. If that were not true I would not have told you it was! I am going in order to prepare your staying place.”
  • Colorado: “Where my Father God lives are many houses to live in. It’s true. I’m not one who lies!”
  • Navajo: “Where my Father’s home is there are many houses. If it were not that way, would I have told you that it was? I am going there in order to prepare a place for you.”
  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “Where my Father God is like a large house with many rooms. I would have told you if there were not rooms for you. And now I will return to prepare rooms for each of you.” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Uma: “In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling-places. I go to prepare your dwelling-places for you. If it were not like that, I would have told you.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “There in the place of my Father God, there are many dwellings. If this were not true I would not tell you this. I am going to prepare your dwellings.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “There are many places which can be lived in where my Father lives. For if this were not true I would not have said to you a while ago that I go to prepare a place for you to live in.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because there are many dwelling-places for people -where my Father -is-staying in heaven, and I am going there to go prepare your dwelling-place. If this that I tell you were not true, would I tell it?” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “In heaven where my Father lives, it’s a dwelling-place with lots of room. This is really true, and I’m going ahead now to do what will cause you to be able to live there. If it’s not true, of course I wouldn’t say it to you.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “There at my Father’s house there are many places to stay. If there weren’t resting places, I wouldn’t have told you this. But now I am going to prepare a place for you.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)