anchor

The Greek that is translated into English as “anchor” in English is, due to non-existing nautical language, rendered as kayo’ barko (“an instrument that keeps the boat from drifting”) in Chol (source: Steven 1979, p. 76), “iron hooks” (“that make the boat stop”) in Isthmus Mixe, “irons called ‘anchors’ with ropes” in Teutila Cuicatec (source for this and above: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.), “an iron attached to a rope attached to the boat so that it may not drift away” in Lalana Chinantec (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.), and “big canoe stopping metal” in Kouya.

Eddie Arthur tells the story of the translation into Kouya: “A slightly more prosaic example comes from Paul’s sea voyages in the Book of Acts. In Acts 27, when Paul’s ship was facing a huge storm, there are several references to throwing out the anchor to save the ship. Now the Kouya live in a tropical rain-forest and have no vessels larger than dug-out canoes used for fishing on rivers. The idea of an anchor was entirely foreign to them. However, it was relatively easy to devise a descriptive term along the lines of ‘boat stopping metal’ that captured the essential nature of the concept. This was fine when we were translating the word anchor in its literal sense. However, in Hebrews 6:19 we read that hope is an anchor for our souls. It would clearly make no sense to use ‘boat stopping metal’ at this point as the concept would simply not have any meaning. So in this verse we said that faith was like the foundation which keeps a house secure. One group working in the Sahel region of West Africa spoke of faith being like a tent peg which keeps a tent firm against the wind. I hope you can see the way in which these two translations capture the essence of the image in the Hebrews verse while being more appropriate to the culture.

See also ship / boat, rudder, and anchor (figurative).

glutton

The Greek that is often translates as “glutton” in English is translated as “a very otter” in Isthmus Mixe.

See also glutton.

stocks

The Greek that is typically translated as “stocks” in English is translated in Isthmus Mixe as “notched boards” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.).

motion (to speak)

The Greek that is translated as “motion (to speak)” or “make a sign (to speak)” in English is translated Isthmus Mixe translated as “winked with both eye” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.).

See also motion to.

right hand of

The Greek and Hebrew that is typically translated as “(to the) right hand of” is often translated much more descriptively in other languages. In Yakan it is translated as “at the right side, here in the greatest/most important/most honored place/seat,” in Mezquital Otomi as “the right hand, at the place of honor,” in Chuj as “exalted at the right hand,” in Chichimeca-Jonaz as “in a high place there at the right,” in Lalana Chinantec as “make great,” in Isthmus Mixe as “given great authority,” in Morelos Nahuatl as “placed big” (source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August, 1966, p. 1ff), and in Teutila Cuicatec as “in all authority at the right side” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.).

complete verse (John 1:21)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:21:

  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “They said to him, ‘Who are you then? Are you Elijah, the person who spoke God’s word long ago?’ And he said to them, ‘I am not he.’ Then they said to him again, ‘Are you the person who is to come to speak the Word of God to us?’ And he answered and said to them, ‘Not I.’ “
  • Ojitlán Chinantec: ” What then? Are you Elijah: Who are you? Are you the prophet of God called Elijah? I am not: I am not Elijah.”
  • Aguaruna: No, I am not Elijah. Are you the prophet: But what are you? Are you the teller of God’s word who will come, that one?”
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “Are you that man who will tell God’s words?”
  • Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac: “Are you the prophet of God for whom we are waiting?”
  • Isthmus Mixe: “Are you God’s messenger, the one Moses talked about?” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Uma: “They asked further: ‘If thus, who are you(s)? Are you(s) the prophet Elia?’ Yohanes said: ‘No also.’ They asked further: ‘Are you(s) perhaps the big prophet who was promised long ago, who they said would come to the world?’ Yohanes said: ‘No also.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “‘Na, who are you?’ they said. ‘Are you Eliyas?’ Yahiya said, ‘No.’ The priests said, ‘Are you the prophet that our (incl.) tribe Isra’il is waiting for/expecting?’ Yahiya answered, he said, ‘No.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And they said, ‘Are you the long ago inspired one, Elijah?’ (inspired one-prophet) And John said, ‘I am not also.’ And they said, ‘Perhaps you are that prophesied prophet of God?’ And John said, ‘I am not also.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘Who are you (singular) then? Are you (singular) Elias? they said. ‘No,’ he said. ‘Are you (singular) perhaps the prophet who is coming?’ they inquired again. ‘No,’ he said.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “‘Well if it’s like that,’ they said, ‘then who are you? Are you not the Prophet Elias?’ ‘Expletive, no,’ said Juan. ‘Well what, are you not the one who is meant by that Prophet?’ ‘Expletive, no. I won’t make-false-claims for myself.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Again they asked him, ‘But who are you then? Are you the prophet Elijah?’ John said, ‘I am not.'” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (John 3:30)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 3:30:

  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “It is necessary that it be known that he is the great one. But it is necessary that I be thought nothing of.”
  • Aguaruna: “He will be more surpassing. I will not be great, I will be small.”
  • Isthmus Mixe: “He must be honored by many people, but I will no longer be honored.”
  • Chol: “Christ must be the more important one. I must be made less important.”
  • Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac: “It is necessary that they follow Jesus more and more and that they follow me less and less.” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Uma: “He is the one whose life must be made high, and my life must be made low.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “He has to become greater/more honored but I have to become lower/less,’ said Yahiya.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “For example, if there is a man being married, the bride belongs to him. As for the wedding arranger, his breath is very good when he hears that bridegroom talking with the one he has married. It’s like that also because it pleases me very much if many follow Jesus,’ said John. ‘It is necessary that mine should be removed.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “It is necessary that he be-made-greater (lit. high) while-simultaneously I become-lower.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “It’s necessary that he becomes praiseworthy/highly-praised, but as for me, I just become insignificant.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “That one, the people must know better that he surpasses, and I must be second more.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)