exceeding joy

The Hebrew phrase that is rendered in English as “God my exceeding joy” is translated into Poqomchi’ as “God who makes my heart delicious.”

See also joy.

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.”)

rejoice with trembling

The Hebrew that is translated as “rejoice with trembling” (or just: “trembling”) in English is translated in Poqomchi’ with the existing phrase “tremble with joy,” “so the source of the trembling seems to come from the joy and not from the fear of God.”

with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind

The phrase that is translated as “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” in English versions is rendered in Kahua with a term for belly/chest as the seat of the emotions.

The same phrase is translated into Kuy as “with all your heart-liver”to show the totality of one’s being. (Source: David Clark)

Similar to that, in Laka one must love with the liver, in Western Kanjobal with the “abdomen,” and in Marshallese with the throat.

What is translated as “soul” in English is translated as “life” in Yaka, Chuukese, and in Ixcatlán Mazatec, “that which stands inside of one” in Navajo, and “spirit” in Kele.

The Greek that is translated in English as “strength” is translated in Yao as “animation” and in Chuukese as “ability.”

The Greek that is translated in English as “mind” is translated in Kele as “thinking,” in Chuukese as “thought(s),” and in Marathi as “intelligence.”

The whole phrase is translated in Tboli as “cause it to start from the very beginning of your stomach your loving God, for he is your place of holding.”

In Poqomchi’ (as in many other Mayan languages), the term “heart” covers both “heart” and “mind.”

(Sources: Bratcher / Nida, Reiling / Swellengrebel, and Bob Bascom [Ixcatlán Mazatec and Poqomchi’])

See also implanted / in one’s heart and complete verse (Mark 12:30), and see Seat of the Mind for traditional views of “ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling.”

For a detailed look at the relationships between the Deuteronomy 6:5 quote, its Septuagint translation and the quotations in the synoptic gospels, see Adaptable for Translation: Deuteronomy 6.5 in the Synoptic Gospels and Beyond by Robert Bascom.

Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name

Ron Ross talks about the problems of metaphors in translation in relation to Psalm 89:12 where The Hebrew is translated in English as “[the mountains] Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.” “[This] will be tough in many languages in which such metaphoric uses either sound ridiculous or are taken literally. This seems to be the case in Poqomchi’. When I suggested to the Poqomchi’ translator that he try to keep the image of the mountains singing, his response was that he could do that, because nothing is impossible for God.”

leaning on his spear

The Hebrew that is translated as “leaning on his spear” in English is translated in such a manner in Poqomchi’ that it implies that Saul was trying to kill himself.


The Hebrew and Greek that is translated in English as “Leviathan” is translated in Poqomchi’ as “monster crocodile.”

my son / child

The Hebrew that is translated in English as “my son” or “my child” was translated in Poqomchi’ as hat wak’uun noq wilkaat: “you my son (as it were)” because “in many languages (including the Mayan ones), can only be said to one’s offspring.”

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.