bitter, Mara

The Hebrew name Mara means “bitter” which is here used as a designator for the state Naomi finds herself in (translated in English: “call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me.” or similar). “However not all languages use the word for ‘bitter’ to describe things like lives, or feelings. In Poqomchi’ we had to translate this as ‘sadness,’ because ‘bitter’ would have meant nothing in this context, and the proposed name change would have been as meaningless as if left unexplained.”

narrative order (Ruth 3:14)

The Hebrew that is typically translated in English as “So she lay there at his feet, but she got up before it was light enough for her to be seen, because Boaz did not want anyone to know that she had been there.” needed to be reordered in languages like Bribri and Poqomchi’ “to reverse the order of the cause and effect, putting the cause first: ‘Boaz didn’t want anybody to know that Ruth had slept there. Because of that, Ruth got up very early the next morning (to go).’

The exact wording in Poqomchi’: Re’ Booz ma’ xraaj taj chi xkinab’eej chi re’ ixoq re’ re’ xponik woroq ar, ruum aj re’, re’ Rut ko q’equm wach ak’al xwuktik chi junwaar.

hear the words of the LORD

The Hebrew that is typically translated in English as “hear the words of the Lord” is translated in Poqomchi’ as “look at what the Lord has shown me” because “what follows are not words of the Lord at all” (the text continues with “I saw the Lord” in the English translation)

merchant

The Hebrew that is translated as “merchants” (for Leviathan) in English had to be translated more specifically in Poqomchi’.

Ronald Ross explains: “In at least some Mayan languages the word for ‘vendor’ cannot be used without expressing what it is they sell. So here, in Poqomchi’ we have had to put ‘fish vendors,’ even though we are assuming that Leviathan is a crocodile. [See Leviathan] It seems that even in the Hebrew the context is that of a fish market, which is logical since Leviathan is considered to be a sea monster. This may be a case of Hebrew classification of anything that swims or lives in the water being a fish, like anything that flies is a bird (bats, for example).”

implicit information made explicit (Job 41:8)

The Hebrew is translated in English as “Lay hands on it [the Leviathan]; think of the battle; you will not do it again!” or similar. Here and in the Hebrew original the fear of touching the Leviathan again is implied. In Poqomchi’ it had to be made explicit with the addition of “because you’ll be very much afraid of him.”

See also Leviathan.

diligent, negligent, slack

This verse with its dichotomy of “negligent” and “diligent” (in the English translation) is translated into Poqomchi’ as “Whoever does not grab his heart to work, becomes poor, but whoever grabs his heart to work, becomes rich.” (Reminiscent of the biblical expression “gird up your loins.”)