What is truth?

The Greek that is translated into English as “What is truth” is translated into Dogrib as Nàowo ehkw’ıı ayìı welè?: “What may the truth be anyway?”

Dwayne Janke (in Word Alive 2003, p. 16) tells the story of this translation:

“One challenging passage is John 18:37-38, where Christ tells Pontius Pilate that everyone on the side of truth listens to Him. In response, Pilate asks, ‘What is truth?’ and walks away.

“Jaap [Feenstra, an SIL translation consultant] turns to Alice [Sangris, a Dogrib co-worker for translation verification] after reading the verses. ‘Why, Alice, would he say, Nàowo ehkw’ıı ayìı awèidi? “What do you mean with truth?’?’

“Alice seems unsure. But after Marie Louise [Bouvier-White, a Dogrib translator] reads the verses again, Alice says, that to her, Pilate is asking a genuine question.

“‘It’s supposed to be a rhetorical question,’ Jaap replies. ‘Pilate is saying. We don’t even know what truth is.’

“Marie Louise catches onto the concept: ‘Pilate went out (of the room] because ‘truth’ doesn’t mean anything to him.’

“Mary [Siemens, another Dogrib translator] offers an optional wording that makes the Dogrib translation ot Pilate’s question more sarcastic in tone. The group discusses and tweaks the phrasing, until in Dogrib it says: ‘What may the truth be anyway?'”