In the context of being in the wilderness, the Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek that is translated as “wild ass” in English is translated in Chitonga as cibize or “zebra,” because “from the Tonga perspective, no ‘donkey of the bush’ [the literal correspondent of ‘wild ass’] could be expected to live very long, due to predators like lions, etc.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 130)
The Hebrew that is translated as “One who puts on armour should not brag like one who takes it off” or similar in English is translated in Chitonga with the existing idiom “A man is a buffalo” (i.e., one cannot brag that he is as strong as a water buffalo until after he has defeated his opponent) and in Chichewa (interconfessional translation) as “You’re as good as your fellow upon the anthill only after you’ve climbed up there yourself.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 107)
Instead of translating ” . . . she (Naomi) said no more,” which would be an impolite type of behavior (implying that she was so angry that she didn’t want to talk to Ruth anymore), the Chichewa reads “she just kept quiet,” and Chitonga “she did not refuse any more.”
The Hebrew that is translated as “lay your hand upon your mouth” or similar in English is translated in Chitonga with the proverb “grab yourself on the lip” (i.e., in amazement). (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 104)
The Hebrew that is translated as “escaped by the skin of my teeth” or similar in English is translated in Chitonga with the proverb “my teeth are outside” (i.e., he is so thin [hence near to death] that his lips are stretched tightly, thus exposing his teeth). (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 104)
In a Chewa/Tonga setting Boaz could not address Ruth as “My daughter” (which turns out to be “my child” in Chichewa/Chitonga) unless he happened to be very much older than she was. He would rather say “mother” (mai, i.e., moderate respect, versus the ultimate honorific, “mothers”). Neither could he refer to his laborers as “my maidens,” for in Chitonga this could be interpreted as meaning his girlfriends. Instead he would use “female workers” and omit the “my.”
The phrase that is translated in English translations as “for Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans” or similar is translated into Mono is translated as “It is taboo for you people to drink from our buckets.” (Source: Carl Gross)
In Telugu the more unspecific “have no dealings” rendering was used since even members of the same family do not use each other’s dishes. (Source: David Clark)
In Chitonga it is translated with the existing idiom “(Jews and Samaritans) do not step on each other’s toes” and in Chichewa (interconfessional translation) as “(do not) look one another in the eyes.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 130)
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), “has a big liver” in Una (source: Kroneman 2004, p. 471), or “crying in one’s stomach” in Q’anjob’al (source: Newberry and Kittie Cox in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 91ff. ). In Mairasi it is translated with an emphasized term that is used for “love”: “desiring one’s face so much” (source: Enggavoter 2004) and in Chitonga with kumyongwa or “to have the intestines twisting in compassion/sorrow for someone” (source: Wendland 1987, p. 128f.).
See also Seat of the Mind for traditional views of “ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling.”
The Hebrew and Greek that is translated “boat” or “ship” in English is translated in Chichimeca-Jonaz as “that with which we can walk on water” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.) and in Chitonga as a term in combination with bwato or “dugout canoe” (source: Wendland 1987, p. 72).
In Kouya it is translated as ‘glʋ ‘kadʋ — “big canoe.”
Philip Saunders (p. 231) explains how the Kouya team arrived at that conclusion:
“Acts chapter 27 was a challenge! It describes Paul’s sea voyage to Italy, and finally Rome. There is a storm at sea and a shipwreck on Malta, and the chapter includes much detailed nautical vocabulary. How do you translate this for a landlocked people group, most of whom have never seen the ocean? All they know are small rivers and dugout canoes.
“We knew that we could later insert some illustrations during the final paging process which would help the Kouya readers to picture what was happening, but meanwhile we struggled to find or invent meaningful terms. The ‘ship’ was a ‘big canoe’ and the ‘passengers’ were ‘the people in the big canoe’; the ‘crew’ were the ‘workers in the big canoe’; the ‘pilot’ was the ‘driver of the big canoe’; the ‘big canoe stopping place’ was the ‘harbour’, and the ‘big canoe stopping metal’ was the ‘anchor’!”
The Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic that is translated in English as “(as white as) snow” is translated in San Miguel El Grande Mixtec as “(as white as) volcano frost,” the only white kind of frost that is known in that language (source: Nida 1947, p. 160.). Likewise, it is translated in Chichewa as matalala or “hail stones,” since “hail in Central Africa, when it occurs, is also white” (source: Wendland 1987, p. 72).
In Obolo it is translated as abalara: “white cloth” (source: Enene Enene), in Bambam as “like the white of cotton” (source: Phil Campbell in Kroneman 2004, p. 500), in Muna as “white like cotton flowers” (source: René van den Berg), in Sharanahua as “like fresh Yuca root” (source: Holzhauen / Riderer 2010, p. 72), in Tagbanwa as “white like just broken waves” (source: Tagbanwa Back Translation), in Chitonga as “as the cattle egret ” (source: Wendland 1987, p. 130), and in Cerma “white like the full moon,” except in Psalm 51:7 where the Cerma translators chose “wash me with water until I shine” (source: Andrea Suter in Holzhauen / Riderer 2010, p. 36).
In Gbaya, in most cases an ideophone (term that expresses what is perceived by the five senses) is employed to depict strong intense whiteness (either ndáká-ndáká or kpúŋ-kpúŋ are used for the ideophones), sometimes in combination with “cotton.” Interestingly, for Rev. 1:14 where the color of the hair of the “Son of Man” is described, the use of cotton was questioned since it “would create the unpleasant image of an untidy person with disheveled hair or of a mourner with unkempt appearance.” It was eventually used, but only with a footnote that gives additional information by mentioning the French loan word neige for “snow.” In the two cases where the color white refers to the color of the skin of leprosy (Num. 12:10 and 2 Kings 5:27), the image of hail is used in the first to describe the pale white of leprous skin, while the ideophone ndáká-ndáká is used for dramatic effect in the second. (Source: Philip Noss)