the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees

The Hebrew that is translated as “the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees” or similar in English is translated in Vidunda as the “sound of soldiers who are traveling by feet,” in Kwere as “wind blowing to the middle of trees,” and in Kutu as “marching sound of feet in the top of tree” because a translation involving “feet” did not communicate the correct meaning. (Source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

bridle

The Hebrew that is translated as “bridle” or similar in English is translated in Kwere as “rope.” (Source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

See also horse.

your bone and your flesh

The Hebrew that is translated in English as “I am your bone and your flesh” (or: “my bone and my flesh) is translated into Afar as anu sin qabalaay sin nabsi kinniyo: “I am your blood and body.” (Source: Loren Bliese)

It is translated likewise in Kutu and in Kwere. In Vidunda, it is translated as “family.” (Source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

See also become one flesh.

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 [publ. 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: “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.)
  • Chichewa: “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, ‘clap in the hands and laugh happily'”)
  • Medumba: “suck the cheek” (“a novelty, the traditional term being ‘to embrace.'”)
  • Shona (version of 1966) / Vidunda: “hug”
  • Balinese: “caress” (source for this and three above: Reiling / Swellengrebel; Vidunda: project-specific translation notes in Paratext)
  • Tsafiki: 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 Tsáchilas’ [speakers of Tsafiki] 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).)
  • Kwere / Kutu: “show true friendship” (source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

See also kissed (his feet).

ruddy

The Hebrew that is translated with “ruddy” in English is translated in Mandinka as “light-skinned.” “‘Light-skinned’ could be considered a cultural equivalent. Although there are a few people with reddish skin in Mandinka, this is not an attractive trait. The UBS Handbook (A Handbook on the First and Second Books of Samuel by R.L. Omanson and J. Ellington) suggests that ‘ruddy’ may have referred to the hair, but medical people know that reddish hair is a sign of malnutrition.” (Source: Rob Koops)

In Vidunda it is translated as “healthy/strong” and in Kwere as “powerful” (source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext).

bear (animal)

The Hebrew that is translated as “bear” in English is translated in Mungaka as “leopard” since bears are not known in that culture (see also wolf) (source: Nama 1990).

In Vidunda and Kutu it is translated as “lion” and in Kwere as “cheetah” (in Proverbs 17:12). (Source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)

Michel Kenmogne comments on this and comparable translations (in Noss 2007, p. 378 ff.): “Some exegetical solutions adopted by missionary translations may have been acceptable during that time frame, but weighed against today’s translation theory and procedures, they appear quite outdated and even questionable. For example, Atangana Nama approvingly mentions the translation into Mungaka of terms like ‘deer’ as ‘leopard’, ‘camel’ as ‘elephant’, and ‘wheat’ as ‘maize,’ where the target language has no direct equivalent to the source text. These pre-Nida translation options, now known as adaptations, would be declared unacceptable in modern practice, since they misrepresent the historico-zoological and agricultural realities in the Bible. Nowadays it is considered better to give a generalized term, like ‘grain,’ and where necessary specify ‘a grain called wheat,’ than to give an incorrect equivalence. Unknown animals such as bears, can be called ‘fierce animals,’ especially if the reference is a non-historical context.”

feet of his faithful ones

The Hebrew that is translated as “feet of his faithful ones” or similar in English is translated in Vidunda, Kwere and Kutu as “faithful people” because a translation involving “feet” did not communicate the correct meaning. (Source: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext)