cares of the world, worries of this age

The Greek that is translated as “worries (or: cares) of the world (or: this age)” in English is (back-) translated in a number of ways:

  • Kekchí: “they think very much about these days now”
  • Farefare: “they begin to worry about this world-things”
  • Tzeltal: “their hearts are gone doing what they do when they pass through world” (where the last phrase is an idiomatic equivalent for “this life”
  • Mitla Zapotec and San Mateo del Mar Huave: “they think intensely about things in this world”
  • Eastern Highland Otomi and Pamona: “the longing for this world”
  • Tzotzil: “they are very occupied about things in the world”
  • Central Tarahumara: “they are very much afraid about what will happen in the world”
  • Shilluk: “the heavy talk about things in the world”

See also end of the age / end of the world.

gospel

In choosing a word for the Greek that is typically translated as “gospel” in English, a number of languages construct a phrase meaning “good news,” “joyful report” or “happiness-bringing words.” In some instances such a phrase may be slightly expanded in order to convey the proper meaning, e.g. “new good word” (Tzotzil), or it may involve some special local usage, e.g. “good story” (Navajo), “joyful telling” (Tausug), “joyful message” (Toraja-Sa’dan) (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida), “message of God” (Shilluk) (source: Nida 1964, p. 237), or cohuen ñoñets or “good news” in Yanesha’ (source: Martha Duff in Holzhausen 1991, p. 11)

Vitaly Voinov tells this story about the translation into Rutul:

“In Rutul, it was only during the most recent consultant checking session that I realized that the Rutul word for Gospel – Incir (from Arabic إنجيل — Injil) — sounds and looks exactly like the word that means ‘fig’ in Rutul. This is a case of homonymy, in which two completely non-related words from differing historical sources have come to sound exactly alike. Most Rutul speakers know that incir means ‘fig’ because they grow this fruit in their yard or buy it at the market every week. However, because the religious sphere of discourse was heavily disparaged during the Soviet era, most people simply never encountered Incir with the meaning of ‘Gospel.’ This meaning of the word, which Rutuls of the pre-Soviet era knew from the Koran, simply fell into disuse and never had much reason for returning into contemporary Rutul since there is no Christian church established among the people. So if the translator continues to use the term Incir as the rendering for ‘Gospel,’ he runs the risk that most readers will, at best, read the word with a smile because they know that it also means ‘fig,’ and, at worst, will completely misunderstand the word. The seemingly ‘easy’ solution in this case is for the translator to use a Rutul neologism meaning ‘Joyful Message’ or ‘Good News,’ [see above] instead of Incir; but in fact it is not all that easy to make this change if the translator himself insists on using the historical word because at least some Rutuls still understand it as meaning ‘Gospel.’ This is a situation in which the translation team has to gradually grow into the understanding that a fully intelligible translation of Scripture is preferable to one that maintains old words at the cost of alienating much of the readership.”

conspire

The Greek that is sometimes translated as “conspire” (or: “giving counsel”) into English is translated into Shilluk with the idiom “gathered mouths together.”

See also conspire (Anuak)

compassion, moved with compassion

The Greek that is translated with “moved with compassion (or: pity)” in English is translated as “to see someone with sorrow” in Piro, “to suffer with someone” in Huastec, or “one’s mind to be as it were out of one” in Balinese (source: Bratcher / Nida).

The term “compassion” is translated as “cries in the soul” in Shilluk (source: Nida, 1952, p. 132), “has a good stomach” (=”sympathetic”) in Aari (source: Loren Bliese) or “has a big liver” in Una (source: Kroneman 2004, p. 471). In Mairasi it is translated with an emphasized term that is used for “love”: “desiring one’s face so much” (source: Enggavoter 2004).

See also Seat of the Mind for traditional views of “ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling.”

He must increase, but I must decrease

The Greek that is often translated in English as “He must increase, but I must decrease” is translated in Shilluk as “He must come in out of the morning, and I must go out into the night.” Nida (1952, p. 159) explains: “Christ must come in out of the misty dawn of our own neglect to take His rightful place of Lordship, while the life of self must recede and be lost in the night of selflessness.”

beside himself, out of his mind

The Greek that is translated as “beside himself” or “lost his mind” or other variations in English is (back-) translated by the following languages like this:

  • Tzeltal: “his head had been touched” (“an expression to identify what might be called the half-way stage to insanity”)
  • Amganad Ifugao: “he acts as though he were crazy”
  • Shilluk: “he is acting like an imbecile”
  • Shipibo-Conibo: “his thoughts have gone out of him”
  • Pamona: “he is outside his senses”
  • Indonesian: “he is not by his reason”

Seat of Emotions, Seat of the Mind

Cultures and languages equate different parts of the human body with the seat of the mind. Following is a theoretical framework that categorizes different approaches:

“[We] use the word ‘mind’ as a shorthand term for ‘ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling’ of which different cultures, or different periods of the same culture, may have different understandings. (…) Cultural models of the mind and more scientific approaches in philosophy and/or medicine have in various cultures invoked central parts of the human body as the locus of the mind. The major loci have been the abdomen region, the heart region and the head region or, more particularly, the brain region. These three types of conceptualizations can be labeled ‘abdominocentrism’, ‘cardiocentrism’, and ‘cerebrocentrism’ (or ‘cephalocentrism’), respectively. These three labels only intend to capture the idea that the region in question is the main centre, which does not exclude a similar role for body parts in other regions.”

(Source: Sharifian, Farzad et al. (eds.) Culture, Body, and Language: Conceptualizations of Internal Body Organs across Cultures and Languages. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2008. p. 3f.)

Equally, and related to that, the seat of emotions is located in many different, culture-specific parts of the body. Bratcher / Nida (p. 78) say: “Though the heart is spoken of in the Bible as the center of intellectual and emotive elements of human experience, in other languages the heart may have no such value. In some languages the corresponding centers are the viscera (Western Kanjobal), the liver (Laka), the stomach (Uduk), the gall (Toraja-Sa’dan) and the head (Anuak), though in the neighboring Shilluk demons may be in one’s head, but the liver and heart are the center of most other psychological activities. Whether one is to use ‘heart’ or some other part or organ of the body depends entirely upon the manner in which in any language such psychological experiences are described.”

love your neighbor as yourself

The Greek sand Hebrew that is translated in English as “love your neighbor as yourself” is translated in Shilluk, Anuak, and Nuer as “love your neighbors as yourselves.” In those and other languages a plural form has to be used if it is to be applied to more than one person where in English a singular can stand for many (compare everyone, each, whoever, any). (Source: Larson 1998, p. 42)

See also he who / whoever.

go in peace

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated as “go in peace” into English is an idiomatic expression of farewell which is translatable in other languages as an idiomatic expression as well: “go with sweet insides” (Shilluk), “rejoice as you go” (Central Mazahua), “go in quietness of heart” (Chol), “go happy” (Highland Puebla Nahuatl), “being happy, go” (Central Tarahumara), or “go and sit down in your heart” (Tzeltal).

care for no man, defer to no one

The Greek that is translated into English as “care for no man” or “defer to no one” (in the sense of not seeking anyone’s favor) is translated in Tabasco Chontal as “you say the same thing to everyone” and in Shilluk as “you show the same respect to everyone.” In Shipibo-Conibo it is “in your mind no one is anything,” in Chol it is “your heart is equally straight in the presence of all men” and in Tzeltal “it does not matter who — all of us are equal as far as you are concerned.”