The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “doubt” in English versions is translated with a term in Tzeltal that means “heart is gone.” (Nida 1952, p. 122)

In other languages it is represented by a variety of idiomatic renderings, and in the majority of instances the concept of duality is present, e.g. “to make his heart two” (Kekchí), “to be with two hearts” (Punu), “to stand two” (Sierra de Juárez Zapotec), “to be two” or “to have two minds” (Navajo), “to think something else” (Tabasco Chontal), “to think two different things” (Shipibo-Conibo), “to have two thoughts” (Yaka and Huallaga Huánuco Quechua), or “two-things-soul” (Yucateco).

In some languages, however, doubt is expressed without reference to the concept of “two” or “otherness,” such as “to have whirling words in one’s heart” (Chol), “his thoughts are not on it” (Baoulé), or “to have a hard heart” (Piro). (Source: Bratcher / Nida, except for Yucateco: Nida 1947, p. 229 and Huallaga Huánuco Quechua: Nida 1952, p. 123)

In Chokwekwalajala is ‘to doubt.’ It is the repetitive of kuala, ‘to spread out in order, to lay (as a table), to make (as a bed),’ and is connected with kualula ‘to count.’ [It is therefore like] a person in doubt as one who can’t get a thing in proper order, who lays it out one way but goes back again and again and tries it other ways. It is connected with uncertainty, hesitation, lack of an orderly grasp of the ‘count’ of the subject.” (Source: D. B. Long in The Bible Translator 1952, p. 87ff.)

rhetorical use of first person plural pronoun

The Greek that is translated as “We should not commit sexual immorality” is translated in Sierra de Juárez Zapotec as “You should not commit sexual immorality.”

John Beekman (in Notes on Translation 19, 1965, p. 1-10) explains that in the Pauline epistles “a passage [often] starts out in the second person [and is then] changed to the first person to spare the readers of any negative reactions to the mention of their actual state. In most passages where Paul includes himself, the correction or warning that is given is sufficiently general in nature to apply to any believer. In some passages, however, the content of the injunctions are rather specific and perhaps not applicable to such an one as Paul, especially if they carry negative implications concerning his conduct. The Sierra de Juárez Zapotec language helper objected to the first person form used in 1 Corinthians 10:8 on the grounds that it suggested that Paul was at that time indulging in immorality; or actively contemplating it. This was changed to second person.”


The Greek that is often translated as “gentiles” in English is often translated as a “local equivalent of ‘foreigners,'” such “the people of other lands” (Guerrero Amuzgo), “people of other towns” (Tzeltal), “people of other languages” (San Miguel El Grande Mixtec), “strange peoples” (Navajo) (this and above, see Bratcher / Nida), “outsiders” (Ekari), “people of foreign lands” (Kannada), “non-Jews” (North Alaskan Inupiatun), “people being-in-darkness” (a figurative expression for people lacking cultural or religious insight) (Toraja-Sa’dan) (source for this and three above Reiling / Swellengrebel), “from different places all people” (Martu Wangka) (source: Carl Gross).

Tzeltal translates it as “people in all different towns,” Chicahuaxtla Triqui as “the people who live all over the world,” Highland Totonac as “all the outsider people,”Sayula Popoluca “(people) in every land” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.), Chichimeca-Jonaz as “foreign people who are not Jews,” and Sierra de Juárez Zapotec as “people of other nations” (source of this and one above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.).

See also nations.

complete verse (Acts 4:3)

Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 4:3:

  • Uma: “That is why they caught/arrested those two apostles, and they put them in jail. Because it was almost dark, that is why they detained them there until the next morning.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Therefore, they seized Petros and Yahiya. Because that was already evening/late afternoon, they imprisoned them until the morning.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And they arrested Peter and John, and since it was already quite late in the afternoon, they put them in prison because they would have them wait until morning.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “That being so, they held-them -tightly and took them to the prison so that on the next day (lit. its-tomorrow) they would then try them, because it was already getting-to-be-night.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Therefore what those who had arrived did was, they arrested Pedro and Juan, and because it was already late afternoon, they just jailed them. They would interrogate them next day.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Sierra de Juárez Zapotec: “They put them in jail the night before hearing the complaint against them because it was late in the day when they laid hold on them.”
  • Desano: “They put them in jail and left them there because it was already very late in the day, and they were going to bring them out the next day.”
  • Lalana Chinantec: “They put them in jail for one night, because it was nightfall-there was no longer time to judge them.” (Source for this and two above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)