Bawm build with bamboo and thatch in their mountainous forests. They made the apostles and prophets become the roof ridge pole and Jesus the central uprights which support it. I asked why not the corner uprights since Greek has a term that is translated in English as ‘cornerstone.’ Bawm translators responded that the central uprights are more important than the corner ones, and Greek refers to the most important stone. (“Corner uprights” used in 1 Timothy 3:15.) (Source: David Clark)

Similarly, Chris Pluger tells the following from the translation into Tsamakko: “At the end of Ephesians 2, Paul uses the idea of a building to show that people of all nations and backgrounds are united together by faith in Christ. This building is pictured as standing on a stone foundation, and believers are ‘joined together’ as parts of that building. Christ himself is the cornerstone on which everything is based. However, the Tsamakko people of southwest Ethiopia do not build on stone foundations, and their buildings are traditionally round. This makes the idea of a ‘cornerstone’ difficult for several obvious reasons. In the Tsamakko translation of Ephesians 2:20, Christ is the mososso — the big center pole of a house that holds up the roof and the entire structure of the building. The apostles and prophets are the other poles that support the frame of the house. And believers are the house itself — all the pieces that make up the walls and the roof. We are all joined together as one, and Christ is the thing that keeps us together!” (for a complete back-translation of that verse in Tsamakko, see complete verse (Ephesians 2:20).

In Mono, translators used “main post,” in Martu Wangka “two forked sticks with another long strong stick laid across” (see also 1 Peter 2:6-7.), and in Arrernte, the translation in 1 Peter 2:7 (in English translation: “the stone . . . became the very cornerstone”) was rendered as “the foundation… continues to be the right foundation.” (Source for this and two above: Carl Gross)

Likewise, in Uripiv it also is the “post” (source: Ross McKerras) as well as in Sabaot (source Jim Leonhard in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 50)

In Ixcatlán Mazatec it is translated with a term denoting the “the principal part of the ‘house’ (or work)” (source: Robert Bascom), in Enlhet as “like the house-root” (source: Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 24ff. ), in Q’anjob’al it is translated with with the existing idiom “ear of the house.” (Source: Newberry and Kittie Cox in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 91ff. ), in Desano as “main support of the house,” and in Tataltepec Chatino as “the best stone” (source for this and one above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.).

Shuar translates as “that stone was placed to the main house pole.” The Shuar use stones in house building either at the bottom of the posthole as a base for the house pole to rest on, or as chocking material around the post to hold it firm. Either function is acceptable here particularly as applied to the main house-pole. In Ocotlán Zapotec it is “master stone of the house.” This is a special stone they put into the foundation as sort of a guide stone of how the foundation is to true up. (Source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)

See also rock / stone, foundation on rock, and foundation.


The Hebrew, Latin and Greek that is translated in English as “locust” is translated in Ayutla Mixtec as “insect like flying ants” because locusts are not known locally (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.), in Shuar as “edible grasshoppers” (especially in connection with John the Baptist) (source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.), and in Pa’o Karen as “grashopper” (source: Gordon Luce in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 153f. ).

See also locust (different kinds in Joel 1:4 and 2:25).

greatest of all shrubs

The Greek that is translated as “the greatest of all shrubs” or similar in English is translated in Chuj as “larger than all the plants we plant each year,” and in Shuar as “larger than all weeds” (Some “weeds” grow to over ten feet.) (Source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)

he said

The Greek that is translated in English as “he said” or similar is translated in Shuar as ” but although he knew the young child was really dead, he said to them.” Commentaries are generally agreed that Jesus’ statement in this verse was not made to deny the actual death of the girl, but rather to suggest an immediate resurrection. In some languages, a literal and unexplained rendering of the statement by Jesus “the child is not dead” implied that he was not aware of her condition. In another it implied that he was attempting to deceive the people into thinking she was just sleeping. This attempted deceit was interpreted as an attempt to quiet the crowd and make them willing to go outside. (Source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)


The Greek that is translated as “curtain” in English is translated in Shuar as “divider” (aource: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.) and in Copainalá Zoque as “cloth closure” (source: Bratcher / Nida).

complete verse (Mark 9:49)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 9:49:

  • Uma: “According to the Law of Musa long ago, all food that is offered to God must be salted. So all every person must be made holy with suffering.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Isa said yet, ‘All people have to pass through fire, that means through difficulties, in order that their trust becomes strong.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Every disciple of mine shall be prepared by means of salt and fire, which is to say, by means of hardship, so that his faith might be strenghtened.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘All people, they must experience difficulties so-that their behavior becomes-good, like the food that must be salted so-that it is delicious.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “It’s true, there are hardships which will be experienced by all, which cause improvement of their ways/nature. For like the action of salt and fire, these hardships remove whatever is not good or is worthless.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Shuar: “If a person wants to give a meat killed gift to God, he is to salt it that it be good. So also people will taste/experience suffering like fire so that their heart may be good.”
  • Mezquital Otomi: “The animals long ago, those that were burned as gifts for God, it was necessary that salt be put on them as God had commanded. Also, you all are like those animals which are burned, because it is necessary that you pass through bad happenings.”
  • Tlahuitoltepec Mixe: “All of God’s people are going to suffer here on earth and when they thus do they will result much better. Thus we will imagine it like an animal sacrifice comes out much better when it is sacrificed with salt.”
  • Usila Chinantec: “Everyone will be made good through suffering, which feels like fire. All offerings to God are acceptable to him when they are salted.”
  • Mopán Maya: “Thus it was. They put salt on the animals they burn before God. It is the same with someone who is believing/obeying me. He will have tribulation [meet pain] so that that man will become good before God,”
  • Totontepec Mixe: “Everyone will have hearts like good salt when they have suffered here. This suffering is like fire. . .”
  • Sierra de Juárez Zapotec: “Everyone is going to be tried with suffering in this world.” (Source for this and six above: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)

complete verse (Mark 13:14)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 13:14:

  • Uma: “‘Long ago the prophet Daniel predicted the coming of one named ‘The evil Destroyer.’ (The one who read these words of prediction, carefully note its meaning!) So, when you see what Daniel predicted standing in a standing-place that is forbidden to him/it, people who dwell in Yudea should flee to the mountains.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “‘Na, in the future, you will see what destroys and what puts-down God there where it is not right for him/it to be. When you see this, the people who are there in Yahudiya should flee to the mountains. (Let the one who reads this understand it.)” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And he who is called the repulsive harmful thing, if you see him placed in the temple where he is not permitted, then those who are in the province of Judea should run away to the mountains. The one who reads this long ago prophecy about this should understand it.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Jesus continued saying, ‘In-the-future there will be a ‘destroyer who is filthy in God’s sight’ who will stand where he has no authority/right. (The one who reads this should understand it.) When you see that, those who are staying in Judea, they must hurry to escape to the mountainous-area.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “You will see something really disgusting in the sight of God, which is standing where it ought not to stand, there in the Templo. (The one reading this is to try-to-understand.) Well, when this is happening, as for the taga Judea, they must run away to the mountains.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Highland Oaxaca Chontal: “There was a man whose name was Daniel. He told the words of God. Read his word with care so that you’ll understand it. You will see they will put an ugly scary thing in the big church. It has no right to be there. It will cause the big church to be abandoned. … “
  • Shuar: “The person who reads this let him understand. Daniel the teller of the things of God, told long ago about an abhorrent destructive thing. When you see that sitting (being) in the not-to-sit-place. … ” (Source for this and above: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)