The Greek that is translated in English as “If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand'” is translated in Alekano as “our foot cannot say to our hand,” since in that language body parts need to have an obligatory possessive designator attached (Source: Larson 1998, p. 42)
The Greek that is translated as “in him was life” or similar in English is translated in Shipibo-Conibo as “that Word also caused to live,” in Umiray Dumaget Agta as “he is the one who gives life,” and in Tzotzil (San Andres) as “everything alive lives because of him,” and in Alekano as “he is the father of life.” (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February, 1970, p. 1-125.)
The Greek that is translated in English as “an eye for an eye” is translated in Alekano as “if someone gouges out your eye, gouge out his eye,” since in that language body parts need to have an obligatory possessive designator attached (Source: Larson 1998, p. 42)
The Greek that is translated as “that you may be mature and complete” or similar in English is translated in Alekano as “your life will become whole,” in Rincón Zapotec as “finish becoming perfect,” and in Eastern Highland Otomi as “that is what will cause our hearts to be mature.”
(Source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.)
The Greek that is translated in English as “the light” is translated in John 1:8 in Alekano as “the father of light,” in Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac as “the true light,” and in Tenango Otomi as “that one who opens the hearts of the people.”
“We’ve been working on the Nukna translation of the book of John, and recently came to Jesus’ famous statement in John 8:12, ‘I am the light of the world.’ As we discussed how to best translate this metaphor, we realized that there was a problem. There is a Nukna word for light — yam — but it’s not possible to say just yam by itself. Light always has a source, and grammatically that source must be included, either by mentioning the actual source or by using a possessive pronoun — ‘its light,’ ‘their light,’ etc. It would be ungrammatical to just say ‘light.’ ( This grammatical feature is known as ‘inalienable possession.’) To literally translate ‘I am the light of the world’ into Nukna would lead to an unacceptable Nukna sentence.
“One idea we’ve had is to use a common source of light that the Nukna people are familiar with: the bamboo torch. The Nukna people live in a remote area without electricity. To see at night, they often light up a species of bamboo named kup. Kup burns with a blazing brightness, and a long piece can be held as a torch, enabling a person to walk at night around the otherwise pitch black village. So in Nukna, Jesus’ words would read, ‘I am like a bamboo torch [kup] that shines its light to the world.’
“Our translation team needs to do further testing to see if this figure of speech is communicating accurately and powerfully. Please pray for us, that God would guide us as we seek to communicate this concept, as well as many others, into the Nukna language in a dynamic and life-changing way. ‘It’s like the light of a bamboo torch shining in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (John 1:5).”
Likewise, Mungaka also uses “torch” (source: Nama 1990).
The Greek that is translated as “the wise and the foolish” or the “educated and the uneducated” in English is translated in Alekano as “those who have spoken school and those who have not spoken school.” (Source: Larson 1998, p. 86)
The Greek that is usually translated as “humble” or “lowly” in English is translated in Eastern Highland Otomi as “one who doesn’t elevate himself,” in Yatzachi Zapotec as “those who think they aren’t worth much,” in Alekano as “those who stay low” (source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.), in Mezquital Otomi as “poor brothers,” in Isthmus Zapotec as “the one is little honored,” in Highland Totonac as “just ordinary people,” and in Yatzachi Zapotec as “poor people who have nothing” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.).
See also humble (mind).
The Hebrew and Greek terms that are typically translated as “mercy” (or “compassion”) in English are translated in various ways. Bratcher / Nida classify them in (1) those based on the quality of heart, or other psychological center, (2) those which introduce the concept of weeping or extreme sorrow, (3) those which involve willingness to look upon and recognize the condition of others, or (4) those which involve a variety of intense feelings.
Here are some (back-) translations:
- Ngäbere: “tender heart”
- Mískito: “white heart”
- Amganad Ifugao: “what arises from a kind heart”
- Vai: “purity of heart”
- Western Kanjobal: “his abdomen weeps”
- Kipsigis: “cry inside”
- Shilluk: “cry continually within”
- Navajo: “feel great sorrow” (“with the connotation of being about to cry”)
- Kpelle: “see misery”
- Toro So Dogon: “know misery”
- Western Highland Purepecha: “be in pain for”
- San Miguel El Grande Mixtec: “be very sorry for”
- Mezquital Otomi: “have increasing love for”
- Tepeuxila Cuicatec: “showing undeserved goodness” (“closely identified with grace”) (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida)
- Yatzachi Zapotec: “pity-love”
- Central Mazahua: “very much pity people”
- Alekano: “help people who are suffering”
- Guhu-Samane: “feeling sorry for men” (source for this and three above: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.)
- Warao: “kobe (= the abdominal region, including the heart) hurts” (source: Henry Osborn in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 74ff.)
- Latvian: žēlastība, the same term that is also used for grace (source: Katie Roth)
- Iloko: asi — also means “pity” and is used for a love of the poor and helpless (source: G. Henry Waterman in The Bible Translator 1960, p. 24ff.)
- Bilua: “forgiving love” (source: Carl Gross)
- Luang: “inside goodness” (source: Kathy and Mark Taber in Kroneman (2004), p. 533)
- Mairasi: “have good intestines” (see Seat of the Mind) (source: Lloyd Peckham)
The Greek that is transliterated “Levites” in English (only the Contemporary English Version translates it as “temple helpers”) is translated in Ojitlán Chinantec as “temple caretakers,” Yatzachi Zapotec as “people born in the family line of Levi, people whose responsibility it was to do the work in the important church of the Israelites,” in Alekano as “servants in the sacrifice house from Jerusalem place,” and in Tenango Otomi as “helpers of priests.” (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
The Greek that is translated as “submit to God” in English is translated as “let God be in charge of your hearts” in Tzotzil, “calm down before God” in Guhu-Samane, “obey God” in Mezquital Otomi, “give oneself over to God” in Sayula Popoluca, and “stick close to God” in Alekano (source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.).
See also not submit to God’s righteousness.