dual vs. plural (Matt. 9:32)

Many languages in the world distinguish between plural and dual (and sometimes trial) pronouns (for instance, “you” specifically addressing many, two, or three people).

In Matt. 9:32 (“As they were going out…” in one English translation) it is left open whether “them” refers to the two blind men or Jesus and the two blind men.

Both the Bislama translators (in the Nyutesteman long Bislama of 1980) and the Uripiv use a dual (indicating that this refers to just the two blind men).

One of the translators explains: “(1) Only Jesus is mentioned as going into the house (Matt. 9:28). The disciples no doubt entered with him, but it is a fair enough working assumption that if they were explicitly mentioned in one place (Matt. 9:32) they would have also been in the other. So we conclude that the ‘they’ in 9:32 is probably not referring to Jesus and the disciples. (2) A reasonably close parallel, as far as the Greek text is concerned, supporting this interpretation can be seen in Matt. 2:13. (First verb of new section repeats last verb of previous section, with same subject, in a genitive absolute construction, with de and followed by idou introducing new participants.)”

Source: Ross McKerras in Notes on Translation 2/1 1988, p. 53-56.

disappoint

The Greek that is translated as “disappoint” or “put to shame” in English is translated as “we will not have sickness in our eyes” in Uripiv (p. 116).

strength of His might

“In [Eph. 1:19] there are not less than four words to do with strength. In Uripiv we have only one! We ended up using an idiom that says literally, ‘His power that is big, that is big exceedingly.'” (Ross McKerras quoted on p. 117)

conscience seared

“It took us a while to find the right way to talk about ‘conscience’ in Uripiv. Here to say their ‘conscience are seared,’ we wrote: ‘They no longer feel anything sharp in their insides when they do bad.'” (Ross McKerras quoted on p. 118)

See also conscience.

complete verse (Matt. 7:3 / Luke 6:41), speck vs. log

The Greek that is translated in English as “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” or similar is translated in Uma with an existing figure of speech: “Why do we stare at the sleep in another’s eye, yet the piece of wood that is in our own eye we don’t know it’s there!” (Source: Kroneman 2004, p. 501)

In Una, it had to be translated with a more explicit translation because “a more literal and shorter version of this verse had led to major misunderstanding or zero understanding.” It’s back-translation says: “You (pl.) are doing very evil things, but you think, ‘We do not do evil things’. But, regarding other people who do not do very evil things, you think, ‘They are doing evil things, for shame’. As for the very big thorn that broke off and entered your eyes, you think, ‘There is no big thorn that entered my eye’, but with regard to the very small piece of wood dust that might have entered someone else’s eye, why would you say, ‘A piece of wood dust has entered his eye?’ That is not appropriate.” (Source: Dick Kronemann)

In Uripiv it is translated as “How is it you see the fowl dropping stuck on the bottom of your brother’s foot, but you can’t see the cow-pat you have stood on? … You could stand on his foot by mistake and make it dirtier!” (Ross McKerras remarked about this translation: “Our village father laughed when he heard this, which was the right reaction.”)

Other back-translations include:

  • Uma: “‘Why do we look at the sleep in another’s eye, yet the splinter of wood in our own eye, we do not know is there!” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “You who puts down his companion,’ said Isa, ‘why do you notice a speck (lit. of sawdust) in the eye of your companion but you, the tree trunk in your own eye you don’t notice.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And again Jesus spoke, ‘You who are always rebuking your companions, why do you rebuke the sin of your companion which is just like a speck that got into his eye. But you — you have a sin which is as big as a log, which has blinded your eye, and you pay no attention to it.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘Why do you (singular) notice the small bit-of-eye-discharge (as when waking up) in the eye of your (singular) fellow, and you (singular) don’t notice the large bit-of-eye-discharge in your (singular) eye?” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “I don’t know why, when someone else has a foreign-body-in-the-eye which is only dust, that is what you (sing.) keep looking for. But when your own foreign-body-in-the-eye is wedged across your eye (implies too big to go in), you just leave it alone.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

mustard seed

The Greek that is translated in English as “mustard seed” is translated in Muna as “wonolita seed.” René van den Berg explains: “The mustard plant rarely exceeds 50 cm in height. A wonolita is a big forest tree growing from a tiny seed.”

In the Bislama and Uripiv translations it is translated as “banyan.” “The banyan tree is one of the biggest in the islands, and it grows from a tiny seed. We (Uripiv) added a footnote to explain to more advanced readers what we had done: ‘Here Matthew compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed, but since mustard doesn’t grow here, we put banyan, so that Matthew’s meaning will be clear.’” (source: Ross McKerras)

In Gbaya is is translated with the ideophone (a word that expresses what is perceived by the five senses) kɛ̧́ɛ̧́ which “denotes a very tiny and barely visible object. (…) The Gbaya team applied it to faith instead of referring to a mustard seed which is unknown to Gbaya readers.” (Source: Philip Noss in The Bible Translator 1985, p. 423ff.)

salted with fire

The Greek that is translated in English “(Everyone will be) salted with fire” is translated in Uripiv as “God will test all people with fire, like they test black stones [which are used in cooking]. If a stone is no good, it crumbles to ashes; if it’s good, the fire doesn’t affect it. So also they put salt with food to test its flavour, good or bad.” (Source: Ross McKerras)

moth

The Greek that is translated into English as “moth(s)” was translated as “cockroach(es)” in Gola “since moths are not seen as destroying things but cockroaches are” (source: Don Slager). The same translation was chosen for Uripiv (source: Ross McKerras).

foundation on rock

The Greek that is translated in English as “foundation on rock” or similar is translated in Uripiv as “on good firm ground” (to hold a post). (Source: Ross McKerras)

See also foundation and cornerstone.

cornerstone

Bawm build with bamboo and thatch in their mountainous forests. They made the apostles and prophets become the roof ridge pole and Jesus the central uprights which support it. I asked why not the corner uprights since Greek has a term that is translated in English as ‘cornerstone.’ Bawm translators responded that the central uprights are more important than the corner ones, and Greek refers to the most important stone. (“Corner uprights” used in 1Tim 3:15.) (Source: David Clark)

In Mono, translators used “main post,” in Martu Wangka “two forked sticks with another long strong stick laid across” (see also 1 Peter 2:6-7.), and in Arrernte, the translation in 1Pet 2:7 (in English translation: “the stone . . . became the very cornerstone”) was rendered as “the foundation… continues to be the right foundation.” (Source for this and two above: Carl Gross)

Likewise, in Uripiv it also is the “post” (source: Ross McKerras) as well as in Sabaot (source Jim Leonhard in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 50)

In Ixcatlán Mazatec it is translated with a term denoting the “the principal part of the ‘house’ (or work)” (Source: Robert Bascom), in Enlhet as “like the house-root” (source: Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 24ff.), in Q’anjob’al it is translated with with the existing idiom “ear of the house.” (Source: Newberry and Kittie Cox in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 91ff.), in Desano as “main support of the house,” and in Tataltepec Chatino as “the best stone” (source for this and one above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.).

See also rock / stone, foundation on rock, and foundation.

south wind

The Greek that is translated as “south wind” in English is translated in Uripiv as “north wind,” “which is hot” (source: Ross McKerras).

lion

There are no lions in Bawm country, so the Bawm Chin translation uses “a tiger with a mane” where the Greek term for “lion” is used and in Sranan Tongo the “roaring lion” in 1 Peter 5:8 is a krasi tigri, an “aggressive tiger.”

In the Kahua culture, lions are not known either so the Kahua translation used “fierce animal.”

In 1 Peter 5:8, the Uripiv translation uses “a hungry shark” instead of a roaring lion.

Sources: David Clark for Bawm Chin and Kahua, Japini 2015, p. 33, for Sranan Tongo, and Ross McKerras for Uripiv)