untie sandals

The Greek that is translated as “(not worthy to) untie sandals” or similar in English is translated in Awa as “because he is an important one, when he speaks I will be silent” since “the Jewish idea of not being worthy of even removing the sandals of an important person is foreign to Papua New Guinea.”

Other languages express it this way: “I am not worthy to be his servant” (Yatzachi Zapotec), “if unworthy I should even carry his burden, it would not be right” (Alekano), or “I don’t compare with him” (Tenango Otomi). (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

Stone Pavement

The Greek that is typically translated in English as “(the) Stone Pavement” is translated as “The smooth place of stone” in Tenango Otomi and cemented place in Huehuetla Tepehua.

(Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

without him not one thing came into being

The Greek that is translated as “without him not one thing came into being” or similar in English is translated in Huehuetla Tepehua as “if it hadn’t been for him there would not have been the world or anything” and in Tenango Otomi as “of all the things there are, there is not one that he did not make.” (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February, 1970, p. 1-125.)

Receive the Holy Spirit

The Greek that is translated in English as “Receive the Holy Spirit” is translated as “The Good Spirit, let it be yours” in Aguaruna, “Now receive from me the Holy Spirit” in Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac, “May the Holy Spirit come upon you” in Navajo, “Now you are accompanied by the Holy Spirit” in Tenango Otomi or “May the Holy Spirit enter into your hearts” in Lalana Chinantec.

(Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

the light

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.”

Matt Taylor (in The PNG Experience) describes the process of finding the correct term for the presently prepared Nukna translation of John:

“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).

feed my lambs

The Greek that is translated as “feed my lambs” in English is translated as “teach my people my words, as if to say you will feed my little sheep” in Ojitlán Chinantec, “teach my word to the men who are like lambs” in Huehuetla Tepehua, “help those who believe in me” in Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac, “teach the people who have just begun to trust in me” in Yatzachi Zapotec and “now do like a shepherd does. Take care of the people who believe in me” in Tenango Otomi.

(Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

See alsotend my sheep.

Levite

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.)

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

The Greek that is translated in English as “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” is translated in Yatzachi Zapotec as “When have we ever heard that anybody good came out of Nazareth?,” in Aguaruna as “But from Nazareth even one good person isn’t able to come,” and in Tenango Otomi as “And as for Nazareth, can a good person come from there?”

Zeal for your house will consume me

The Greek (and Hebrew) that is translated on many English versions as “Zeal for your house will consume me” is translated in various ways in other languages:

  • Yanesha’: “My protectiveness for your house completely possesses me.”
  • Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac: “So very much I want the house of God to be honored. And because of this I am treated with contempt.”
  • Tenango Otomi: “I look with respect on your house, even though I lose my life.”
  • Lalana Chinantec: “I cannot stand it, so much do I value the house where they worship You.”

(Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

See also zeal.

living water

The Greek that is translated in English as “living water” is translated in Shipibo-Conibo as “water by which to live” and in Tenango Otomi as “water which gives the new life.” (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125)