Mary / Martha / Lazarus (relative age)

Many languages have terms for siblings that define whether one is younger or older in relation to another sibling.

In Fuyug, Tae’, Batak Toba, and Mandarin Chinese, Martha was assumed to be the older of the two sisters because she is mentioned first. (Sources: David Clark [Fuyug] and Reiling / Swellengrebel)

Navajo translates accordingly but for a different reason: “since Martha seemed to take the responsibility of the housework, she was probably the older of the two” (source: Wallis 2000, p. 103f.) whereas in Mandarin Chinese he is the younger brother.

In Fuyug, Lazarus is assumed to be the oldest sibling on the grounds that he died first, whereas in several Thai translations he is described as the youngest of the three. (Source: David Clark)

leap

The Greek that is often translated in English as “leap (or: leaped)” is translated with appropriate idioms as “trampled” (Javanese), “shook-itself” (Kituba), “wriggled” (Thai), “danced” (Taroko), “stirred” (Toraja-Sa’dan), “sprawled” (Batak Toba), “played” (Shipibo-Conibo). In Dan the clause has to be “her stomach moved” since “leaping” sounded vulgar. (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

Bill Michell (in Omanson 2001, p. 431) explains why in Cusco Quechua the women on the translation team had to intervene to correct a translation that was too literal:

“In the [Cusco Quechua] project in Peru the first draft of Luke’s Gospel was done by a man. In the case of Luke 1:41 his translation was quite literal. He had the unborn child physically jumping, unhampered and unhindered. This was met with some laughter from the women on the team. They suggested an onomatopoeic expression to communicate the sensation of a sudden movement in the womb: wawaqa ‘wat’ak’ nirqan — ‘the child said, ‘Wat’ak!” The child didn’t jump, it ‘spoke’! This times there were smiles instead of laughter as the women recognized something that was authentically their own.”

encourage

The Hebrew that is translated with “encourage” in English versions is translated with a Thai term that means “give heart power to.” (p. 41)

came to himself, came to his senses

The Greek that is translated as “he came to himself” or “he came to his senses” is (back-) translated in a number of ways:

  • Sranan Tongo: “he came to get himself”
  • Tzeltal: “his heart arrived”
  • Thai (translation of 1967): “he sensed himself” (implying realization that he had done wrong)
  • Kekchí: “it fell into his heart”
  • Tagalog: “his self came back”
  • Yaka, Chuukese, Pohnpeian: “he came to wisdom (or: became wise)”
  • Kituba: “he understood himself”
  • Uab Meto: “his heart came to life again”
  • Kaqchikel: “he came out of his stupor”
  • Lomwe, Yao: “he was turned, or, aroused (as from sleep), in his heart”
  • Javanese: “he became-aware of his own condition”
  • Kele: “he thought again about his affair” (source for all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Mairasi: “his own liver’s sky split” (In Mairasi, the liver is the seat of emotions) (source: Enggavoter 2004)

harden heart

The Hebrew that is translated into English as forms of “(to not) harden heart” is translated into other languages with their own vivid idioms; for example, Thai uses “black-hearted” (source: Bratcher / Hattoon, p. 272), Pökoot as makany kwoghïghitu mötöwekwo: “do not let become hard your heads” (source: Gerrit van Steenbergen), or Anuak as “make liver strong” (source: Loren Bliese).

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

heard

The Hebrew that is translated as “I have indeed heard (the cry of my people)” or “(the cry of the people) has come to me” in some English translations is translated into Thai (Thai Common Language Version, 1985) as “take heart and put into” meaning “take a deep interest in.”

scum of the world

The Greek that is translated as “scum of the world” in some English translations is translated into Thai (Thai Common Language Version, 1985) as “(we are like) the spitting pot (spittoon) in the king’s palace.”

speak into the air

The Greek that is translated as “speaking into the air” in many English versions is translated into Thai (Thai Common Language Version, 1985) with a similar pronoun: “speak the wind.”